HMS Kent (D12)

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County class destroyer HMS Kent, c1963 (IWM HU 129867)
HMS Kent, c1963 (IWM)
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Kent
Namesake: Bent Kent
Ordered: 6 February 1957
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Laid down: 1 March 1960
Launched: 27 September 1961
Commissioned: 15 August 1963
Decommissioned: 1980
Struck: 1993
Identification: Pennant number: D12
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1998
General characteristics
Class and type: County-class destroyer
Displacement: 5,440 tonnes (6,850 tonnes full load)
Length: 158.6 m (520 ft 4 in)
Beam: 53 ft (16 m)
Draught: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Propulsion: COSAG (Combined steam and gas) turbines, 2 shafts
Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km)
Complement: 470
Aircraft carried:Lynx or Wessex helicopter
Aviation facilities: Flight deck and enclosed hangar for embarking one helicopter

HMS Kent was a batch-1 County-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She and her sisters were equipped with the Sea Slug Mk-1 medium-range surface-to-air missile SAM system, along with the short-range Sea Cat SAM, two twin 4.5-inch gun turrets, two single 20mm cannon, ASW torpedo tubes, and a platform and hangar that allowed her to operate one Wessex helicopter. The County class were large ships, with good seakeeping abilities and long range, and were ideal blue-water ships for their time.

Construction and design[edit]

Kent was one of two County-class destroyers ordered under the British Admiralty's 1956–57 shipbuilding programme.[1] She was laid down at Harland & Wolff's Belfast shipyard on 1 March 1960[2] and launched by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent on 27 September 1961.[3] The ship was completed on 15 August 1963.[2]

Kent was 521 feet 6 inches (158.95 m) long overall and 505 feet (153.92 m) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 54 feet (16.46 m) and a draught of 20 feet 6 inches (6.25 m). Displacement was 6,200 long tons (6,300 t) normal and 6,900 long tons (7,000 t) deep load.[2] The ship was propelled by a combination of steam turbines and gas turbines in a Combined steam and gas (COSAG) arrangement, driving two propeller shafts. Each shaft could by driven by a single 15,000 shaft horsepower (11,000 kW) steam turbine (fed with steam at 700 pounds per square inch (4,800 kPa) and 950 °F (510 °C; 783 K)) from Babcock & Wilcox boilers[4]) and two Metrovick G6 gas turbines (each rated at 7,500 shaft horsepower (5,600 kW)), with the gas turbines being used for high speeds and to allow a quick departure from ports without waiting for steam to be raised.[5] Maximum speed was 30 knots (35 mph; 56 km/h) and the ship had a range of 3,500 nautical miles (4,000 mi; 6,500 km) at 28 knots (32 mph; 52 km/h).[6][2]

A twin launcher for the Seaslug anti-aircraft missile was fitted aft.[6] The Seaslug GWS1 was a beam riding missile which had an effective range of about 19 mi; 31 km.[7] Up to 39 Seaslugs could be carried horizontally in a magazine that ran much of the length of the ship.[8][9] Close-in anti-aircraft protection was provided by a pair of Seacat (missile) launchers, while two twin QF 4.5 inch Mark V gun mounts were fitted forward. A helicopter deck and hangar allowed a single Westland Wessex helicopter to be operated.[2]

A Type 965 long-range air-search radar and a Type 278 height-finding radar was fitted on the ship's mainmast, with a Type 992Q navigation radar and an array of ESM aerials were mounted on the ship's foremast. Type 901 fire control radar for the Seaslug missile was mounted aft.[10] Type 184 sonar was fitted.[7]

Operational service[edit]

After her commissioning and work-up, Kent spent the balance of her career as an escort to the Royal Navy's aircraft carrier fleet. She deployed at various times with Victorious, Eagle, and Hermes in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. She was hard worked throughout the 1960s, along with her batch-1 County sister ships, as they were the only guided missile-armed destroyers in the fleet until the later half of the 1960s.

One role was as host ship for the Withdrawal from Empire negotiations in Gibraltar. She suffered a fire during refitting in 1976 but was soon repaired and was present for the Silver Jubilee fleet review of 1977.

In the late 1960s all four of the batch-1 County-class vessels were planned to be upgraded with the superior Sea Slug Mk-2 system, but the upgrades were cancelled in 1967–68 because the amount of time the ships would be out of the operational fleet while being refitted. [11] Hampshire and Devonshire paid off early in 1976 and 1978 respectively. Some of the improvements in the second group of County destroyers, were fitted; Kent and London had their Seacat directors updated from GWS21 to GWS22, and the later model of 992 radar target indicator was on Devonshire, Kent and London by May 1974.

Decommissioning and harbour service[edit]

Kent was decommissioned in the summer of 1980, after only 17 years of active service and became the replacement for HMS Fife and Fleet Training Ship (FTS), moored to the lower end of Whale Island outboard of the defunct support ship HMS Rame Head opposite Fountain Lake, Portsmouth Naval Base. At the beginning of the Falklands War, she was surveyed for possible recommissioning (her large size, helicopter deck and four 4.5-inch guns would have made her a good command and shore bombardment ship), but her two years of unmaintained status meant a substantial amount of refit would be required to make her seaworthy, and no work was begun.

HMS Kent as a training ship, 1989

She spent 1982 through to 1984 as a live asset for artificer and mechanic training supporting HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan, her machinery largely in serviceable condition.

In 1984 she also became a harbour training ship for the Sea Cadet Corps. She was paid off from this in 1987 and became a training hulk at Portsmouth until stricken in 1993, though she lingered on, tied up to the same pier at Portsmouth Naval Base until 1996.

Kent was sold for scrap, and in 1998 she was towed to India to be broken up.HMS Kent (D12) Association is a thriving group for former members of the ships company of Kent, annual reunions are held and any former shipmates can join the association by searching for the page on Facebook[12]

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1963 1964 Captain John G Wells RN
1964 1965 Captain Andrew M Lewis RN
1965 1967 Captain R A Begg RN
1967 1968 Captain Bernard D McIntyre RN
1968 1968 Captain Iwan Raikes RN
1968 1969 Captain Richard P Clayton RN
1969 1972 In refit
1972 1973 Captain Alfred R Rawbone RN
1973 1975 Captain John B Robathan RN
1975 1976 Captain John B Hervey RN
1976 1977 Captain Jock Slater MVO RN
1977 1979 Captain Richard Turner RN
1979 1980 Captain J P Gunning RN
1980 1980 Captain Kenneth H Forbes-Robertson RN

See also[edit]

Media related to HMS Kent (D12) at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Friedman 2008, pp. 192, 330
  2. ^ a b c d e Gardiner & Chumbley 1995, p. 508
  3. ^ "A Third Guided Missile Ship Launched: Kent named". Navy News. October 1961. p. 1. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  4. ^ Blackman 1971, p. 346
  5. ^ Marriott 1989, pp. 102, 110
  6. ^ a b Marriott 1989, p. 110
  7. ^ a b Friedman 2008, p. 192
  8. ^ Friedman 2008, p. 188
  9. ^ Marriott 1989, p. 102
  10. ^ Marriott 1989, p. 105
  11. ^ Friedman 2008, pp. 192–193
  12. ^ History : HMS Kent : Type 23 Frigates : Surface Fleet : Operations and Support : Royal Navy Archived 10 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.