HMAS Duchess (D154)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Duchess.
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: Duchess
Builder: John I. Thornycroft and Company
Laid down: 8 July 1948
Launched: 9 April 1951
Commissioned: 23 October 1952
Motto: "Duci Non Trahi" (To Be Led But Not Dragged)
Fate: Loaned to RAN in 1964, sold 1972
Career (Australia)
Name: Duchess
Acquired: 8 May 1964
Commissioned: 8 May 1964
Decommissioned: 24 October 1977
Reclassified: Training ship (1974)
Nickname: "Her Ladyship"
Honours and
Battle honours:
Malaysia 1965–66
Fate: Sold for scrap, 7 May 1980
Badge: Ship's badge
General characteristics
Class and type: Daring-class destroyer
Displacement: 3,600 tons
Length: 390 ft (120 m) overall
Beam: 43 ft (13 m)
Draught: 13.6 ft (4.1 m)
Propulsion: 2 × Foster Wheeler boilers (650 psi, 850 °F), English Electric steam turbines, 2 shafts, 54,000 shp (40 MW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,400 nautical miles (8,100 km; 5,100 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 278 as destroyer
243 as training ship
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar Type 293Q target indication

Radar Type 291M air warning
Radar Type 274 navigation
Radar Type 275 fire control on director Mark VI (replaced by MRS 3 in 1961)[citation needed]

Radar Type 262 fire control on director CRBF and STAAG Mark II
Armament: 6 × QF 4.5 inch /45 (113 mm) Mark V guns in 3 twin mountings UD Mark VI
4 × 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 2 twin mounts STAAG Mark II
2 × 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 1 twin mount Mark V
5 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes in Pentard mounting
1 × Squid anti submarine mortar Mark 10
1 × Sea Cat missile system (installed later[clarification needed])
4 × 3-pounder saluting guns
Notes: Aft 4.5 inch twin mounting, torpedo tubes, and Squid mortar were removed in 1974 during conversion to training ship.
Taken from:[1]

HMAS Duchess was a Daring-class destroyer that served in the Royal Navy as HMS Duchess from 1952 to 1964, and in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1964 to 1980.

Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1952, Duchess operated with the British Home Fleet and in the Mediterranean, was involved in the 1956 Suez Crisis, and served as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. Following the Melbourne-Voyager collision, Duchess was loaned to the RAN in 1964 as a temporary replacement for HMAS Voyager. The destroyer was purchased by Australia in 1972, converted into a training ship over the next two years, and continued to operate with the RAN until her paying off in 1977, and her sale for scrap in 1980.


Duchess was laid down by John I. Thornycroft and Company of Woolston at Southampton on 8 July 1948.[2](I) She was launched on 9 April 1951 by Countess Edwina Mountbatten, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 23 October 1952.[3]

Operational history[edit]

Royal Navy[edit]

Duchess was initially assigned to the British Home Fleet in early 1953.[3] In June 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[4] In September 1954 and July 1955, the destroyer was deployed to the Mediterranean, and near the end of the year escorted the Royal Yacht Britannia during the final leg of Queen Elizabeth's and the Duke of Edinburgh's world tour.[3] Duchess continued to operate in the Mediterranean until July 1955, and was involved in the Suez Crisis in 1956.[3][clarification needed] In 1957 Duchess became leader of the 5th Destroyer Squadron, commanded by Captain Jack Scatchard RN.[5] Sometime between 1956 and 1964,[clarification needed] the destroyer operated with the Far East Strategic Reserve.[3]


Following the loss of the Daring-class destroyer Voyager in a collision with the aircraft carrier Melbourne on 10 February 1964, both the United Kingdom and the United States of America offered to loan ships to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as a replacement; the Royal Navy offering Duchess while the United States Navy offered two Fletcher-class destroyers: US Ships The Sullivans and Twining.[6] Duchess was accepted on a four-year loan and modernised, while two modified River-class frigates (Swan and Torrens) were constructed as permanent replacements.[6] Duchess was acquired by the RAN on 8 May 1964, and commissioned on the same day.[3]

Royal Australian Navy[edit]

During 1965 and 1966, Duchess operated in Malaysian waters during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation. This was later recognised with the battle honour "Malaysia 1965–66".[7][8]

Although she had been loaned to the RAN for only four years, Duchess remained in RAN service after this time, and was purchased outright by the Australian Government in 1972.[6]

At the start of 1973, Duchess underwent a refit that removed several of her weapons and installed a classroom, for future service as a training ship.[3] Re-entering service in August 1974, the ship performed her first training cruise in early 1975, visiting ports in south-west Australia and New Zealand.[3] Training cruises also occurred in late 1975, 1976, and 1977.[3]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

In September 1977, Duchess was removed from service, and was paid off on 24 October 1977.[3] The ship was sold for breaking up as scrap on 7 May 1980, and departed Sydney under tow for Taiwan on 9 July.[3]


  • ^(I) 8 July is the date of laying down listed by the British Ministry of Defence Naval Historical Branch. However, some sources give 2 July as the date.[9]


  1. ^ Cassells, The Destroyers, pgs 34–5, 238
  2. ^ Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 34
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 35
  4. ^ Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c Frame, A Cruel Legacy, pp. 21–22
  7. ^ "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 238


Further reading[edit]