HMS Kent (D12)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Kent.
County class destroyer HMS Kent, c1963 (IWM HU 129867)
HMS Kent, c1963 (IWM)
United Kingdom
Name: HMS 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.

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. All four of the batch-1 County-class vessels were to have mid-life refits and the superior Sea Slug Mk-2 system fitted; however, this was cancelled due to the mid-1970s cut-backs of RN funds and 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. She became a harbour training ship as soon as she entered her role as she paid off and not as late as 1984.

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[1]

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