HMS Penelope (F127)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Penelope.
Penelope delivered to Ecuador in 1991
Penelope alongside in Devonport during her transfer from the Royal Navy to Ecuador in 1991
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Penelope
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Vickers-Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Newcastle
Laid down: 14 March 1961
Launched: 17 August 1962
Commissioned: 31 October 1963
Decommissioned: 1991
Identification: Pennant number: F127
Fate: Sold to Ecuador, 1991
Career (Ecuador) Ecuadoran Navy Ensign
Name: Presidente Eloy Alfaro
Namesake: Eloy Alfaro
Operator: Ecuadorian Navy
Commissioned: 1991
Decommissioned: 19 March 2008
Identification: Hull number: FM 01
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Class & type: Leander-class frigate

HMS Penelope was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy. Like other ships of the class, Penelope was named after a figure of mythology. She was launched on 17 August 1962 and commissioned on 31 October 1963. Penelope had originally been intended to be part of the Salisbury class and was to have been named Coventry (and before that Panther), but instead became part of the Leander class.

Service history[edit]

Royal Navy service, 1963–1991[edit]

Upon commissioning, Penelope joined the 20th Frigate Squadron which was based in the United Kingdom. In 1966 Penelope underwent a refit that re-roled her into a trials ship and led to the removal of much of her weaponry, including her twin 4.5-in gun turret.

In 1968, Penelope assisted in the aftermath of the Aer Lingus Flight 712 crash in the Irish Sea. There has been a number of conspiracy theories about the crash, including the alleged involvement of Penelope. The theory goes that the ship, while performing tests, mistook the aircraft for a target drone and shot her down.[1] All conspiracy theories have been refuted by the Ministry of Defence.

The following year, Penelope was present in West Germany during the Kiel Week festival which combined a yachting race and festival events. She took part in a variety of tests in the 1970s, including those on her Sea Wolf missile in 1977. In 1981, she was fitted with the Exocet missile with the intention of testing it.

In 1982, Penelope took part in the Falklands War as part of the "Bristol group", which included two other Leander-class ships - Minerva and Andromeda - she did not reach the Falkland Islands area of operations until 26 May. Upon her arrival, Penelope mainly performed escort duties, including escorting the damaged Argonaut in late May, who had suffered damage after being hit by cannon fire and bombs.

On 13 June, Penelope's Lynx helicopter struck the already stranded Argentinian patrol boat Rio Iguazu with a Sea Skua missile. Penelope returned home in September 1982.

Soon after, Penelope undertook a Falklands patrol in the tense aftermath of the war, and did not return home until June 1983. The following year, she deployed to the South Atlantic again, patrolling and performing other duties in that region. In 1988 the ship suffered a machinery breakdown and collided with the starboard side of the Canadian Naval supply ship HMCS Preserver (AOR 510) during a replenishment. Penelope caught the Preserver's starboard anchor, cutting her port side open. The Canadian vessel suffered $260,000 damage, while Penelope suffered damage estimated in the millions.

Ecuadorian Navy service, 1991–2008[edit]

Penelope was decommissioned and subsequently sold, along with Danae, to Ecuador. She was renamed Presidente Eloy Alfaro after President Eloy Alfaro, a prominent Ecuadorian martyred reformer of the early 20th century.

Presidente Eloy Alfaro was decommissioned on 19 March 2008, after 17 years in the Ecuadorian Navy.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "British Missile or Drone?". www.geocities.com. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 

Publications[edit]