A brief history of HMS PLYMOUTH (F126)



(Golf Delta Foxtrot Alpha)

The last Type 12 Frigate afloat



HMS Plymouth pre-conversion


HMS Plymouth is a ‘Rothesay’ class, type 12, anti-submarine Frigate.   Her keel was laid down in Devonport
on 1st July 1958 and she was launched just over a year later on 20th July 1959, the ceremony being carried
out by Nancy, Viscountess Astor.   Her fitting out was completed two years later in Plymouth, and she was
commissioned on 11th May 1961.   Powered by twin steam turbines, providing propulsion to two screws, she
was capable of a top speed of 28 knots.   Her dimensions are 370ft (113m) in length by 41ft (13m) breadth,
with a draught of 17ft (5m) and a displacement of 2,800 tonnes.   Armament consisted of two 4.5" guns,
four 20mm guns. She carried a normal compliment of 250 officers and crew.

Her first commissions as part of the 4th Frigate Squadron and the 22nd and 29th Escort Squadrons were
to take her to the Far East, participating in various exercises and operations, before returning in 1966
to the Naval Dockyard at Chatham for a substantial re-fit.   Re-emerging in the January of 1969 the
conversion work had entailed:-

The provision of a flight deck for the Wasp helicopter along with the subsequent removal of one of the Mortars.
The installation of a Sea Cat missile system to replace her 40mm guns, and a program of general modernisation
work throughout the vessel.




For the next few years she would spend time in the Indian Ocean, Far East, Australia and a
number of European ports, before returning home to Devonport, for a re-fit.

The next commission took HMS Plymouth to the West Indies for the first time, returning home eighteen
months later in the February 1973.  After a short period in Icelandic waters and the Mediterranean she
docked in Gibraltar for further maintenance, returning to Britain on 11th December 1974.  Leaving the
UK in 1975 as a member of the 8th Frigate Squadron she participated in exercises in the Mediterranean,
South China Sea and Australia, returning via the USA and Caribbean, before further exercises en-route
back to Britain whilst crossing the Atlantic.  The remainder of the decade she would be found in more
local waters being engaged in coastal patrols as well as work in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.

In 1977 HMS Plymouth was present at Spithead for the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, and in July
1978 HMS Plymouth returned to the UK for a major re-fit, being re-commissioned on 23rd January 1981.

Going South

Falkland Sound - The calm before the storm

HMS Plymouth participated in the 1982 Falklands Conflict.  She sailed with Tide Class Tanker
RFA Tidepool and County Class Destroyer HMS Antrim to South Georgia with Royal Marines and SAS aboard.


On the 25th April 1982, HMS Antrim's Wessex Helicopter picked up the Submarine Santa Fe on Radar and it
was subsequently spotted on the surface leaving Grytviken after landing reinforcements.  The Santa Fe was attacked
with depth charges which exploded close to her port outer casing, causing her to return to Grytviken badly damaged.
She was further attacked by HMS Plymouth's Wasp Helicopter and HMS Endurance's Wasp firing their AS12 Rockets.

HMS Plymouth and HMS Antrim then provided Naval Gunfire Support, and the Argentine Garrison at Grytviken then
surrendered at approximately 1715hrs. Lt. Cdr Alfredo Astiz signed the surrender document in the Wardroom of
HMS Plymouth on the 26th April.

HMS Plymouth was then assigned to provide cover for the aircraft carriers and amphibious vessels and was the
first vessel to enter San Carlos Water.  On May 21st she came to the assistance of the bomb damaged Leander
Class Frigate HMS Argonaut.  HMS Plymouth was attacked herself on June 8th by five Mirage aircraft.  Although
she managed to damage two, HMS Plymouth was hit by four bombs and numerous shells. 
One shell hit her flight deck, detonating a depth charge and starting a fire.  Another bomb entered her funnel and
failed to explode, whilst the other two destroyed her anti-submarine mortar but also failed to explode.  Five men were
injured in the attack and HMS Plymouth was assisted in putting the fires out by HMS Avenger.  She then underwent
emergency repairs from the Stena Seaspread before rejoining the fleet.  She then provided naval gunfire bombardment
during the retaking of the island.  HMS Plymouth left the Falklands with the County Class Destroyer HMS Glamorgan on
June 21st, and returned to Rosyth on July 14th where she underwent full repairs.  She had steamed 34,000 miles,
fired over nine hundred 4.5 inch shells and destroyed five enemy aircraft.

Uncertainty

Millbay Docks


On 11th March 1984 HMS Plymouth collided with the German Frigate FGS Braunschweig.  In 1986 she suffered a fire in
her boiler room killing two people and requiring repairs at Rosyth.   HMS Plymouth was to spend the bulk of her remaining
service in and around the Caribbean along with some time in home waters before returning to port for de-commissioning.

HMS Plymouth decommissioned on April 28th 1988, and was the last Type 12 in service.

It was likely that HMS Plymouth would have eventually been sunk at sea as a missile or torpedo target, or failing that, been
sold for breaking up.  However a dedicated group of volunteers, including Dr David Owen (former Devonport MP) campaigned
to have her preserved for public display.  She was opened to the public on an experimental basis for one year at Trinity
Pier, Millbay Docks, Plymouth.

HMS Plymouth was saved by the Warship Preservation Trust.   After discussions with various local authorities and after
a spell in the Cammel Laird Shipyard undergoing some essential maintenance she was finally moved to East Float Dock,
Birkenhead.  In a joint partnership with Wirral Borough Council she opened to the public for the first time in May 1992.


PRESENT DAY

The Warship Preservation Trust went into voluntary liquidation, and the ships were closed to visitors on the 5th of February
2006 and the vessels were closed up and left to deteriorate.   They were eventually moved across to Vittoria Dock, where
they were left to deteriorate even further.  HM/SM Onyx was sold to Barrow businessman Joe Mullen and was towed to
Barrow-in-Furness where she will become part of the Submarine Heritage Centre that Mr Mullen is hoping to establish.

The former Mersey Lightship Planet was sold and moved across the Mersey and is currently moored in Canning Dock.

The remaining vessels have been neglected,  HMS Bronington is in a very bad state of repair, with her wooden decks
rotting and although there are talks underway to purchase her, there is a possibility that she could be scrapped.

LCT 7074 (Landfall) has sunk at her mooring, with no plans at present to try to re float her.

At present HMS Plymouth is berthed in Vittoria Dock Birkenhead, her fate decided.  Later this year, HMS Plymouth
will be towed away to be "deconstructed" (scrapped) in another country. At this moment in time, there is an Asset Management
team on board, removing all the artifacts that are still there.  It comes as a suprise that Plymouth City Council, seem to be in line
to receive some of these artifacts.   WHY?? They refused to help at a time when we could have saved the ship, but they did not
want a Warship that carries the Name of the City of Plymouth, cluttering up the waterfront.










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