Type 22 (Broadsword Class) Frigate

HMS Cumberland Type 22 Frigate
With the cancellation of CVA-01 project and with only one out of the four Type 82 vessels (HMS Bristol) being completed, and the decision to phase out the remaining aircraft carriers, by the mid-1970s, the Royal Navy would have no effective air defence vessels. Top priority was given to the design of an air defence escort vessel, and the result was the Type 42 destroyer, the first of which was HMS Sheffield. With the priority given to the Type 42, the Type 21 was brought in as a stopgap measure, and work on the Type 22 proceeded slowly. The first of class (HMS Broadsword) was eventually laid down in February 1975, with the others proceeding at yearly intervals. The specification called for the ability to conduct sustained anti-submarine warfare, but have a general capability as well. An early decision was made to have the same engines as the Type 42 destroyers, which meant that the Royal Navy would benefit from economies of scale, and operate a common spares holding.

Although the original intention was to build a large number of Type 22s, the 1981 Defence White Paper cut the programme back as they were deemed too expensive, and only one more was to be added to the six already approved by the time of the White Paper. However, the Falklands conflict saw Brilliant and Broadsword assigned as close escorts to the carriers Hermes and Invincible. The ships emerged from the campaign with excellent reputations, and the Seawolf missile system had proven a great success.

As a result of the conflict, it was announced that a further five Type 22s would be ordered to replace the losses suffered in the campaign. Originally, three of the five ships would be of a new Batch III version. However, as a result of delays to the Type 23 programme, a further two Batch III ships were ordered and earlier details revised, so that overall, four Batch I, six Batch II and four Batch III ships were finally completed. Additionally, the weapons suite of the Batch III ships was enhanced with the 4.5in gun, replacement of the Exocet missiles with the Harpoon, fitting of the 'Goalkeeper' Close In Weapon System, which is designed to engage incoming missiles from 1500 meters down to 350.

Despite the problems, the Type 22s remain some of the most heavily armed ships in the Royal Navy, and demonstrate the increase in the size, capability and cost of modern frigates.

Ship Names: Broadsword, Battleaxe, Brilliant, Brazen (Batch I); Boxer, Beaver, Brave, London, Sheffield, Coventry (Batch II); Cornwall, Cumberland, Campbeltown and Chatham (Batch III).

How to cite this article: Antill, P. (12 January 2001), Type 22 (Broadsword Class) Frigate, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_type22frigate.html

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