HMS London (D16)

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HMS London, 1971 (IWM).jpg
HMS London in the English Channel after taking part in joint exercises with the RAF in the Atlantic, North Sea and Norwegian Sea, December 1971 (IWM)
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
NameHMS London
Ordered6 February 1957
Builder Swan Hunter
Laid down26 February 1960
Launched7 December 1961
Commissioned4 November 1963
DecommissionedDecember 1981
Identification Pennant number: D16
FateSold to Pakistan on 24 March 1982
Naval Ensign of Pakistan.svgPakistan
AcquiredMarch 1982
FateSold for scrap in 1995
General characteristics
Class and type County-class destroyer
Displacement5,440 tonnes (6,850 tonnes full load)
Length158.6 m (520 ft 4 in)
Beam53 ft (16 m)
Draught20 ft (6.1 m)
PropulsionCOSAG (Combined steam and gas) turbines, 2 shafts
Speed31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km)
Aircraft carriedLynx or Wessex helicopter
Aviation facilities Flight deck and enclosed hangar for embarking one helicopter
HMS London (D16 - unmarked) entering Southampton, Summer, 1966 HMS London (D16 - unmarked) entering Southampton.jpg
HMS London (D16 - unmarked) entering Southampton, Summer, 1966

HMS London was a County-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.


Construction and design

London was one of two County-class destroyers ordered under the British Admiralty's 1956–57 shipbuilding programme. [1] She was laid down at Swan Hunter's Wallsend, Tyne and Wear shipyard on 26 February 1960 [2] and launched by Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester on 7 December 1961. [3] The ship was completed on 14 November 1963. [2]

London 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]

Royal Navy service

Early service

London commissioned at Swan Hunter's yard in Wallsend on 14 November 1963 under Captain J.C. Bartosik and was initially fully employed setting her armament to work, successfully firing her Sea Slug surface-to-air missile for the first time off Aberporth in April 1964. After working up, during which she entertained the Duke of Edinburgh on board, she crossed the Atlantic in September 1964. She visited Bermuda and Houston before joining a special squadron led by Vice-Admiral Sir Fitzroy Talbot on a round of visits to the South American part of his command. Passing through Panama, she visited Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil before proceeding via Tristan da Cunha to Simonstown, where she spent Christmas. New Year's was spent at sea en route to Mauritius, where the ship's helicopter was used to build a TV mast. She then deployed to the Far East, visiting Hong Kong, Bangkok, Subic, Singapore and ports in Malaya. During this time she was part of a powerful fleet whose presence acted as a deterrent to President Sukarno of Indonesia's attempt to intimidate the infant Federation of Malaysia through 'Confrontation'. [11] She then returned to the UK via Aden and assisted the Adrian Augusta adrift in the Red Sea before entering Suez, proceeding to Gibraltar, then Portsmouth and took part in Navy Days at Portsmouth in 1965. [12]

More world travel

On Easter Monday 1969 London sailed for the Far East; she had onboard Admiral of the Fleet Sir Varyl Begg GCB., DSO., DSC. who was taking passage to take up his appointment as Governor and C-in-C Gibraltar. The ship sailed into Gibraltar on 17 April flying the flag of an Admiral of the Fleet. After that, she continued her passage, calling in at Simonstown and then onto Beira Patrol before heading for Gan and Singapore. She accordingly spent the period from June to late September in the South China Sea visiting Hong Kong, Manila and Subic Bay as well as spending two weeks in Japan as well as spells in her base port of Singapore. In September, she sailed in company with HMNZS Otago, into New Zealand visiting Auckland, Gisborne where she led a group of ships celebrating Captain Cook's first landing in New Zealand in October 1769. After three days of exceptional hospitality, London sailed for Wellington and Lyttleton. She then crossed the Tasman Sea to Hobart and after that up to Melbourne, where the ship's company were pleased to experience the Gold Cup.

The ship spent two weeks in Sydney before steaming back to Singapore for Christmas and the New Year. She subsequently sailed across the Indian Ocean to carry out a short stint of Beira patrol; she then sailed round the Cape of Good Hope and on across the Atlantic to carry out Sea Slug missile firings in a tactical setting with the US Navy. A short visit to St Vincent and Puerto Rico allowed the ship's company a few days ashore before London headed back to Portsmouth, having completed an extremely busy 12 months. There ensued docking and repairing defects in Portsmouth before carrying out workup in October and visits to Greenock before Christmas leave, prior to sailing in early February 1971 for a nine-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean. This period allowed for a wonderful opportunity for cultural visits in Leghorn (for Pisa and Florence, Civitia Vecchia for Rome and Pompeii and Naples as well as Trieste from where a visit to Venice was possible). The ship called in at Crete for the 30th anniversary of the battle in May 1941. She also called in at Cyprus and Istanbul from where a trip round the Black Sea included a visit to Samsun. The ship gave station leave in Gibraltar and Naples; returning to Portsmouth in early November 1971. In 31 months she had carried out two deployments lasting 21 months, had spent six weeks working up between deployments as well as visits to Scotland and missile firing practice at Aberforth.

'Lasts and decommissioning

HMS London in 1981 HMS London D16 1982.jpeg
HMS London in 1981

London was chosen to represent Great Britain for the celebrations in New York City for the American Bicentennial celebrations in July 1976. The crew went to great lengths to make the ship clean and 'ship-shape' for the visit, and London hosted several diplomatic and social functions while she was there. Her crew enjoyed an extended liberty period out on the town.

London was the last ship to leave Malta when the Maltese government closed the base. She attended the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review off Spithead when she was part of the First Flotilla. [13]

The ship was the last RN vessel capable of firing Mark 1 Sea Slug missiles,firing the last 17 Mk 1 seaslugs on 9 December 1981 as targets for HMS Cardiff and Glasgows Sea Darts [14] and 4.5 shells as targets for HMS Brilliant. Seawolf and on the 10 December 1981, the ship had the distinction of being the ship that carried out the Navy's final twin turret broadside when all four of her 4.5 inch guns were fired at once [15]

London was decommissioned in late December 1981 after completing a three-month deployment to the West Indies as Belize Guardship, during which her crew were involved in the granting of independence to Antigua.

Pakistan naval service

London was sold to Pakistan on 23 March 1982 and recommissioned Babur under Captain Mukhtar Azam. Babur was decommissioned from Pakistani service in 1993 and sold for scrap in 1995.

Commanding officers

Notable commanding officers include J C Bartosik between 1963-1966 and Ronald Forrest during 1970-1972.

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  1. Friedman 2008 , pp. 192, 330
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Gardiner & Chumbley 1995 , p. 508
  3. "Fourth guided missile ship launched: Tenth London Kent Named". Navy News . January 1962. p. 1. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  4. Blackman 1971 , p. 346
  5. Marriott 1989 , pp. 102, 110
  6. 1 2 Marriott 1989 , p. 110
  7. 1 2 Friedman 2008 , p. 192
  8. Friedman 2008 , p. 188
  9. Marriott 1989 , p. 102
  10. Marriott 1989 , p. 105
  11. Programme, Navy Days Portsmouth, 28th-30th August 1965, p13.
  12. Programme, Navy Days Portsmouth, 29th-31st August 1971, p13.
  13. Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  14. N.McCart. County GMD. Maritime Books. (2014) Liskeeard, p 120
  15. N. McCart. County class GMD. Maritime.(2014) Lisekeard, p 120