Duke Class

Type 23 Frigate

Based in Portsmouth and Devonport, the ships were designed to deal with the Soviet submarine threat – but in the 20 years since the fall of Communism, the frigates have proven their versatility by dealing with virtually every mission imaginable in the four corners of the globe.

 

At a glance

185 crew

On board

13 frigates

In the fleet

7,800 nautical miles

Total range

28 knots

Top speed

Heart of the front-line

The 13 Type 23, or Duke-class, frigates are the core of the front-line Fleet. They can be typically be found east of Suez, safeguarding Britain's vital maritime trade routes or Britain's interests in the South Atlantic.

Weapons and capabilities

Gunnery

Small calibre guns

All warships carry small-calibre such as SA80, General Purpose Machine Gun and 9mm guns for use against both surface and airborne targets.

Unlike the majority of the ships weapons systems, these guns are not radar and computer controlled, but aimed and fired by the upper deck gun crews. The weapons range in calibre and complexity.

Harpoon

Long-range anti-ship missile

Harpoon is the long-range lance of the Type 23 Frigate, capable of destroying enemy ships far beyond the horizon.

Fitted to all Type 23 Frigates the Harpoon is a sophisticated anti-ship missile capable of striking targets more than 80 miles away. Harpoon uses a combination of inertial guidance and active radar homing to attack its prey.

Cruising at Mach 0.9 and carrying a large high explosive warhead it is powered by a lightweight turbojet but is accelerated at launch by a booster rocket.

Mk8 Gun

4.5in medium gun

The 4.5in main gun, found on the forecastle of all the Royal Navy's frigates and destroyers, is the most obvious provider of punch and firepower. The gun can fire up to two dozen high explosive shells, per minute, weighing more than 40kg (80lbs) at targets more than a dozen miles away - and nearly 18 miles if special extended-range shells are used.

The main purpose of the gun is Naval Gunfire Support – artillery bombardment of shore targets. In this role, the gun is capable of firing the equivalent of a six-gun shore battery.

Seawolf

Guided missile

Seawolf is the shield of Britain's frigate fleet against air attack. In service for more than 30 years, it has proven itself in battle and remains a potent weapon to this day.

Seawolf is intended to defend an individual ship rather than a task group. It is fired from a vertical silo and guided on to its target by a tracking system on the ship and can track and destroy a target the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound.

Being a part of the Surface Fleet

Lt Jenkins, 25

Warfare officer

The job may be intense, but it’s incredibly rewarding. I also get to work on some of the most advanced warships on the planet.

Click on a location to explore our operations

Middle East

Kipion

Units of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have been on patrol in the Gulf since October 1980, after the Iran/Iraq conflict of that year, and more recently operations have extended further south with the increase in piracy off the Somalia coast. 

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Bay of Biscay

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is a multinational, integrated maritime force - made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team - that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions.

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Middle East

Kipion MCMV

In support of wider British efforts in the region, minehunters are providing the capability to conduct route survey, sea-bed clearance, and mine clearance operations all over the Gulf. The operation provides a visible naval presence in a region where stability and good relations with local nations is vital. Much of the UK’s oil and gas, as well as other products, come from the Gulf region and as such these efforts are paramount to our economy.

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Arctic

Nato MCMV Force

The RN has always supplied an MCMV to one of the two NATO Mine Counter-Measures Squadrons. These are six-month deployments as part of the NATO Standing MCM Groups and will generally be around the coasts of Northern Europe or the Mediterranean depending upon the squadron in which the RN ship is working. 

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North Sea

Standing Nato Maritime Group 1

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 is a multinational, integrated maritime force - made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team - that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions.

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United Kingdom

Fishery Protection

Protecting the British fishing industry and safeguarding the nation's fishing stocks. 

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Gibraltar

Gibraltar Squadron

Conducting security patrols within British Gibraltar territorial waters, and providing protection to warships.

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Antarctic

Antarctic patrol

To provide a UK sovereign presence in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas, to underpin their security and good governance; and meet the UK treaty obligations and exercise rights under the Antarctic Treaty System through inspections, hydrographic charting and support to scientific research.

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Mediterranean

Operation Sophia

A European Union Naval Force operation to counter arms bound for Libya, in support of the UN arms embargo. 

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