HMS Apollo (F70)

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HMS Apollo 1976 SMB-2008.jpg
RN EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Apollo
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down: 1 May 1969
Launched: 15 October 1970
Commissioned: 28 May 1972
Decommissioned: 31 August 1988
Identification: Pennant number: F70
Fate: Sold to Pakistan, 1988
Pakistan Naval JackPakistan
Name: PNS Zulfiqar
Operator: Pakistan Navy
Commissioned: 1988
Decommissioned: 29 October 2006
Identification: Pennant number: F262
Fate: Sunk as target, 12 March 2010
General characteristics
Class and type: Leander-class frigate
  • 2,500 tonnes (standard load)
  • 2962 tonnes (full load)
Length: 372 ft
Beam: 43 ft
Draught: 18 ft
Installed power: 30,000 shp (22,000 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × steam turbines
Speed: 28 kn (52 km/h)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles at 15 kn

HMS Apollo was a batch 3B broadbeam Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She was, like the rest of the class, named after a figure of mythology. Apollo was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders of Scotstoun. She was launched on 15 October 1970 and commissioned on 28 May 1972, making her the penultimate Leander.

Both Apollo and Ariadne are easily distinguished from the other Leanders by their 'witches hat' - fitted to the top of the foremast as a part of the electronic warfare array.

Royal Navy Service[edit]

Apollo was fitted out as a general purpose frigate. Her armaments were: 2 × 4.5 inch (114mm) Vickers 45 Mk6 naval guns mounted in a single twin turret with MRS3/Plessey Type 904 gunnery control system; quadruple Seacat missile launcher platform with GWS22 guidance system; Mk10 anti-submarine triple barrel mortar tubes (auto-load, 92 kg warhead); Westland Wasp helicopter and two 20mm Oerlikon cannon.

She saw her first action during the Second Cod War in 1973, during the fishing disputes with Iceland, when Apollo, while on a fishery protection patrol, was in collision with the Icelandic gunboat V/s Ægir on 29 August 1973. One Icelandic engineer died later while welding a plate on Ægir's damaged hull, the only recorded fatality of the Cod Wars.[1][2]

In January 1977 the UK extended its territorial waters from 12 miles to 200 miles to create an exclusive economic zone for fishery rights. Apollo took turns with other frigates to police the North Sea pending the introduction into service of the Island-class fishery protection vessels.

In 1977, Apollo took part in the last Fleet Review of the Royal Navy so far, in celebration of HM the Queen's Silver Jubilee. As captain of the Second Frigate Squadron, Apollo was responsible for anchorages of all warships at the Royal Fleet Review. In recognition of this work, the admiralty awarded the ship four rather than two 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medals. Apollo was positioned in the middle of HM ships Hardy and Salisbury.[3]

Apollo was intended to be modernised, which would have included the removal of her one 4.5-inch twin gun, which would have been replaced by the Exocet anti-ship missile, but the modernisation was cancelled due to the 1981 Defence Review by the minister John Nott. In July 1982, Apollo was sent to patrol the South Atlantic in the aftermath of the Falklands War and returned home in September. In late 1983 Apollo once again returned to the South Atlantic. On this occasion Apollo encountered heavy seas in the South Atlantic that damaged her hull.

Sale to Pakistan[edit]

In 1988, Apollo's Royal Navy career came to an end when she was decommissioned and subsequently sold to Pakistan, being renamed PNS Zulfiqar. From 1991-93 she underwent a major refit and her 20mm guns and seacat system were replaced by twin 25mm mounts, and her Westland Wasp was replaced by an SA 319B Alouette III helicopter. Zulfiqar continued in service for 18 years with the Pakistan Navy until 29 October 2006 when she was decommissioned into training.


On Friday 12 March 2010, Zulfiqar was sunk as a target in the Arabian sea. Torpedoes and missiles were fired from an F-22P frigate, P3C aircraft and an Agosta 90B submarine.[4][5]

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1971 1973 Captain Richard Garnons-Williams RN
1973 1974 Captain Richard Fitch RN
1977 1977 Captain George Vallings RN
1978 1979 Captain J W F Briggs RN
1984 1986 Commander Jeremy De Halpert RN
1986 1988 Commander Laurence (Laurie) Hopkins RN


  1. ^ Critchley 1986, p. 132.
  2. ^ Jóhannesson, Guðni Th. (2006). Þorskastríðin þrjú. p. 100. 
  3. ^ Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  4. ^ "China's sale of the first ship of the Pakistani Army F-22P warships". Sina. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "HMS Apollo sunk".