HMS Herald (H138)

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United Kingdom
Name: HMS Herald (H138)
Builder: Robb Caledon, Leith
Commissioned: 1974
Decommissioned: 31 May 2001
Out of service: Sold to private hydrographic company in 2001
Refit: Fitted with a strengthened and extended flight deck for Lynx helicopter, 1988
Status: In service as the civilian vessel Somerville
General characteristics
  • 2,000 tons standard
  • 2,945 tons full load
Length: 79 m (259 ft 2 in)
Beam: 15.4 m (50 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
  • Diesel-electric drive
  • 3 × Paxman 12 YJCZ diesels producing 2,434 hp
  • 1 electric motor producing 2,000 shp, driving a single shaft
  • Bow thruster
  • 11 kn (20 km/h) cruise
  • 14 kn (26 km/h) maximum
Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km) at 11 kn (20 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
2 × 35 ft (11 m) surveying motor boats
Complement: 12 officers and 116 men
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Kelvin Hughes Type 1006 radar
  • Hydroplot Satellite navigation system
  • computerised data logging
  • gravimeter
  • magnetometers
  • sonars
  • echo-sounders
Armament: None
Aviation facilities: Helideck for 1 × Westland Lynx HAS 2/3
Service record

HMS Herald was a Hecla-class ocean survey ship that served with the Royal Navy during both the Falklands War and Gulf War.

During the Falklands War, Herald served as a Red Cross ship, ferrying casualties from San Carlos to Montevideo.[1]


She was built by Robb Caledon Shipbuilders in Leith, Scotland.

Operational history[edit]

In December 2000, Herald answered a Mayday call and took part in a joint operation with the Royal Air Force to rescue the crew of the Cypriot ferry Royal Prince. The 35-metre ship sank in rough seas, but the crew were rescued by a RAF helicopter from RAF Akrotiri and landed on HMS Herald.


Herald was paid off on 12 April 2001 and decommissioned on 31 May 2001, having been replaced by the two new survey vessels of the Echo class, HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise.

After decommissioning, Herald joined her sister HMS Hecla in Waterford after a brief re-fit in Cork dockyard. She was renamed Somerville after Admiral James Somerville and was used for a hydrographic survey in Irish waters.


  1. ^ "Red Crosses". Navy News page 1. July 1982.