Type 21 (Amazon Class) Frigate (UK)
The Amazon class frigate was one of the two main classes of frigate in service with the Royal Navy during the 1980s. The origins of the Amazon class lay in the 1966 decision by the Labour Government to phase out the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, and the cancellation of CVA-01, and three out of the four Type 82 destroyers. The Type 42 destroyers were at a very early stage of development, as was their sister ships the Type 22 frigates (to replace the Leander class (Type 12M)), and so a large gap was threatening to open up in the Royal Navy's modern fleet escort surface vessels. As the Royal Navy's ship design departments were at full stretch with working on the Type 42 and Type 22 designs, there was an invitation to tender issued to the commercial sector for a suitable design. Vosper Thornycroft offered a development of its Mk 5 and Mk 7 frigate designs, and this was chosen as the basis for a contract. The contract was awarded to Vosper on 27 February 1968 and Yarrow Ltd was nominated to assist in the design and building stages. The new Type 21 frigates were the first major warships that were designed to be propelled only with gas turbines. Two Rolls Royce Olympus gas turbines supplied 50,000 shp allowing a speed of up to 32 knots at full load. As with the Tribal class, they were designed as general-purpose vessels and so had a mix of armament. There was also a substantial increase in the electronics and computer assistance in running the ship. This meant that the overall crew complement was reduced to 177, as opposed to 250 or so for the Leander class. The one criticism of the class was that they seemed under-armed for their size and cost, and so the Exocet missile system was installed on all ships after the first three and those would be fitted with it at their mid-life refits (although Antelope was sunk during the Falklands conflict). They were also fitted with additional electronic equipment including a comprehensive ESM aerial array carried around the top of the foremast. Generally, the Type 21s have been popular with their crews and served with distinction during the Falklands conflict. While both Antelope and Ardent were sunk, some criticism has been levelled at the use of aluminium alloys in the superstructure. However, on the whole they proved reliable and sturdy vessels.
Ship Names: Amazon, Antelope, Active, Ambuscade, Arrow, Alacrity, Ardent, and Avenger.
How to cite this article:
Antill, P. (12 January 2001), Type 21 (Amazon Class) Frigate (UK), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_type21frigate.html