ONE OF the British Royal Navy’s power packed, type 23 frigates, H.M.S. Lancaster, berthed amid tight security in Lisbon’s Stª Apolónia dockyard last week. On a personal invitation from the ship’s First Officer, The Resident met with the ship’s Captain and learnt more about the capabilities of this powerful and versatile frigate, with its capability to operate anywhere in the world.
The type 23 frigate is the mainstay of the modern surface fleet. There are 16 type 23 frigates that form 50 per cent of the total frigate/destroyer force of the Royal Navy. Originally designed for the principal task of anti-submarine warfare, they have evolved into powerful, versatile, multipurpose ships.
The effectiveness of these ships is enhanced by their stealth design, which reduces their radar signature significantly. In addition to the war fighting roles, the ship is trained to conduct a wide range of other tasks. These include embargo operations, using boarding teams inserted from the ship’s boats or helicopter, disaster relief work and surveillance operations.
The frigate is equipped with the latest Merlin submarine hunting helicopter. The space and layout inside the Merlin was impressive and the huge helicopter was neatly tucked away in the ship’s hangar. Meeting with two of the pilots, we quickly learnt of the vast capabilities of this machine.
An impressive sight awaited on the visit to the ship’s bridge – a vast array of electronics, but, as we found out, training and plotting is still done with the use of charts.
All too soon our visit had to end, so that this bastion of the Royal Navy could prepare for the next morning’s departure from Portuguese waters en route to Gibraltar. Chatting to a mixture of ratings and officers from H.M.S. Lancaster, it was clear they had thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Lisbon and its nightlife! Bob Hughes