HMS Plymouth (F126)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Plymouth.
HMS Plymouth underway.jpg
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Plymouth
Builder: Devonport Dockyard
Laid down: 1 July 1958
Launched: 20 July 1959
Commissioned: 11 May 1961
Decommissioned: 28 April 1988
Identification: Pennant number: F126
Status: Awaiting demolition
General characteristics
Class & type: Rothesay-class frigate
Displacement: 2,150 tons standard
2,560 tons full load
Length: 370 ft (110 m)
Beam: 41 ft (12 m)
Draught: 17.3 ft (5.3 m)
Installed power: 30,000 shp (22,000 kW)
Propulsion: Y-100 plant
Two Babcock and Wilcox boilers
Two English Electric steam turbines
Two shafts
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Range: 400 tons oil fuel, 5,200 nautical miles (9,600 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Complement: 152, later 225, modified to 235[citation needed]
Sensors and
processing systems:

Electronics (as built):

  • Radar Type 293Q target indication
  • Radar Type 277Q height finding
  • Radar Type 275 fire control on director Mark 6M
  • Radar Type 974 navigation
  • Type 1010 Cossor Mark 10 IFF
  • Sonar Type 174 search
  • Sonar Type 162 target classification
  • Sonar Type 170 attack

Electronics (as modified):

  • Radar Type 993 target indication
  • Radar Type 903 fire control on director MRS3
  • Radar Type 978 navigation
  • Type 1010 Cossor Mark 10 IFF
  • Sonar Type 177 search
  • Sonar Type 162 target classification
  • Sonar Type 170 attack

Armament (as built):

  • 1 x twin 4.5in gun Mark 6
  • 1 x 40 mm Bofors gun Mark 7
  • 2 x Limbo A/S mortar Mark 10
  • 12 x 21-in A/S torpedo tubes (removed or never shipped)

Armament (as modified):

  • 1 x twin 4.5in gun Mark 6
  • 1 x Sea Cat GWS-20 SAM
  • 2 x 20 mm Oerlikon guns
  • 1 x Limbo A/S mortar Mark 10
  • 2 x 8-barrel 3in Knebworth/Corvus countermeasures launchers
Aircraft carried: Wasp helicopter

HMS Plymouth is a Rothesay-class frigate, which served in the United Kingdom Royal Navy from 1959 to 1988. She was named after the English city of Plymouth. Since decommissioning as a warship, Plymouth has been preserved, and opened to the public at various United Kingdom ports.



Plymouth was built at Devonport Dockyard, in her namesake city of Plymouth, and was launched by Viscountess Astor on 20 July 1959.

Active service[edit]

During her lifetime, Plymouth served in a variety of locations, including the Far East and Australia. Between 1963 and 1964 she was leader of the 22nd Escort Squadron and from 1964 to 1966 leader of the 29th Escort Squadron.[1] She attended the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review off Spithead when she was part of the 8th Frigade Squadron.[2] She saw action in the Cod Wars between the United Kingdom and Iceland and also the Falklands War in 1982.

The early years[edit]

Plymouth took part in the Cook Bicentennial celebrations held in Sydney Harbour in 1970. Prior to arriving in Sydney she called into Albany (Western Australia), Port Adelaide (South Australia) and Port Kembla (New South Wales). Whilst in Port Kembla members of the ship's company participated in the Anzac Day march through the streets of Wollongong. Going north, the ship called into Brisbane to refuel, and then went on to Manila in the Philippines, and on to a short stay in Hong Kong. From Hong Kong she returned to base in Singapore.
A spell inside the floating dock where her bottom was cleaned and repainted saw her ready to depart the Far East station to return home. She sailed across the Indian Ocean to refuel in the Seychelle Islands before heading for a six-week stint on Beira Patrol. The crew had few distractions and the local ferry was a chance to show off the ship turning in tight circles to make her presence known. The other distraction was the approach of the RAF Shackleton mail aircraft. The mail canisters appeared bomb-like as they fell into the sea off the starboard quarter.
Finishing this duty Plymouth headed south to Simonstown, in South Africa. Before reaching port she was hit by a strong storm and the bow equipment was damaged. The crew enjoyed the stay in Simonstown but two members of the crew disgraced themselves there, bringing drugs on board which were confiscated on the ship's arrival in Plymouth.
The next time Plymouth left harbour it was to conduct a recruiting drive as she sailed around the UK. She visited Stornoway, Middlesbrough, and other ports. [3]

Falklands War[edit]

Plymouth was one of the first Royal Navy ships to arrive in the South Atlantic following the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. She, alongside Antrim, Brilliant and Endurance took part in the recapturing of South Georgia on 28 April during Operation Paraquet. Plymouth landed Royal Marines from her Westland Wasp helicopters and bombarded Argentine troop positions on the island. Her Wasp helicopter later took part in an attack on the Argentinian submarine Santa Fe, which was badly damaged and later captured by Royal Marines.

Plymouth rejoined the task force and supported troops on the ground by bombarding Argentine troop positions with her 4.5-inch (114 mm) guns.

On 8 June, Plymouth was attacked by Dagger fighter bombers of FAA Grupo 6 of the Argentine Air Force. Plymouth was hit by four bombs and several cannon shells. One bomb hit the flight deck, detonating a depth charge and starting a fire, one went straight through her funnel and two more destroyed her Limbo anti-submarine mortar.[4] MEM's John Fearon, David Rance, Gary Borthwick, Robin Cunningham, Alan Harsent, Ray Potts and Kevin Gallagher were part of the damage control and fire fighting teams crucial to saving the ship. All of the bombs failed to explode. Five men were injured in the attack.

Plymouth's wardroom was where the surrender of Argentine Forces in South Georgia was signed by Lieutenant commander Alfredo Astiz.[citation needed] The ship returned to Rosyth Dockyard after the war for full repair and a refit.

The following year, Plymouth served as the West Indies guard ship. On 11 April 1984, she was involved in a collision with the German Köln-class frigate Braunschweig and in 1986 she suffered a boiler room fire, killing two sailors.


Plymouth was decommissioned on 28 April 1988, and was the last Type 12 in service. The Warship Preservation Trust acquired the ship for preservation. In 1990 she was towed to Glasgow and placed on display at a berth on the River Clyde. Subsequently she was relocated to Birkenhead's Great Float, for display alongside other ships and submarines. On 6 February 2006 the Warship Preservation Trust closed, citing financial difficulties and, by default, Plymouth is currently owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company following the demise of the trust.[5] Her future as a museum ship is now uncertain. Immediately after the demise of the trust, rumours began circulating that the vessel would be sold off to an independent company to be transformed into either a floating restaurant or a hotel.[citation needed]

Plymouth City Council had expressed an interest in the ship;[6] the HMS Plymouth Preservation Trust undertook to raise the £250,000 needed to bring the warship back to her home city.[7] It had been hoped that the frigate could be berthed at Millbay Docks, but the offer of a berth was withdrawn in January 2007 by Associated British Ports.[8] A petition, on 10 Downing Street's E-petitions web site, sought to encourage the UK government to provide a berth for the ship,[9] but it was announced in 2012 that she has been sold for scrapping. As of January 2014 her status remains in dispute and her fate uncertain.[10] There are allegations that Peel Ports (who own the Mersey Docks) have no claim to the vessel,[11] and that they are deliberately worsening the state of her to make any attempt to move/rescue her appear unfeasible.[12]

Removal Of Plymouth[edit]

On the 20th August 2014 at 7:30, the ship was removed from Vittoria dock, Birkenhead, by the tug Amber II, [13] to be scrapped in Turkey[14]

Commanding Officers[edit]

From To Captain
1963 1963 Captain Edward L Cook RN [1]
1963 1964 Captain Derrick G Kent RN [1]
1964 1966 Captain Thomas E Fanshawe DSC RN [1]
1970 197? Commander Michael Livesay RN
1977 1977 Commander K H Day OBE RN
19?? 19?? Captain D Pentreath CBE DSO RN
1985 1985 Commander Anthony Dymock RN




  1. ^ a b c d Royal Navy Senior Appointments, Colin Mackie
  2. ^ Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  3. ^ I was there ERA Merryfield
  4. ^ The Royal Navy and the Falklands War|1987|David Brown|Leo Cooper|pp. 297-300
  5. ^ E-petition: government response, 10 Downing Street, 1 June 2007, retrieved 12 August 2007 
  6. ^ Future of warships in the balance, BBC News, 18 January 2006, retrieved 19 January 2006 
  7. ^ Campaign to save veteran warship, BBC, 15 September 2006, retrieved 9 March 2008 
  8. ^ Warship's berth offer withdrawn, BBC News, 22 January 2007, retrieved 9 June 2008 
  9. ^ Hundreds sign up to save warship, BBC News, 19 March 2007, retrieved 19 March 2007 
  10. ^ Liz Hull (14 June 2012), A sad farewell to HMS Plymouth, Mail Online 
  11. ^ Plymouth Trust (September 2013), THE FIGHT FOR HMS PLYMOUTH GOES TO PARLIAMENT, Plymouth Trust 
  12. ^ Plymouth Trust (29 September 2013), PEEL PORTS DELIBERATE NEGLECT AND DAMAGE OF HMS PLYMOUTH, Plymouth Trust 
  13. ^ =
  14. ^ Plymouth Herald (20th August 2014), HMS Plymouth is finally towed away to be scrapped, Plymouth Herald