The British Cold War-era monster destroyer has finally been retired


The Ikara was supplemented with a Limbo anti-submarine mortar, the basic design of which dates back to World War II. This weapon, optimized for shallow water engagements, consisted of a three-barrel launcher that fired three fused mortar shells to create a three-dimensional explosive blast around the target. The bombs could be fitted with a preprogrammed pressure rocket or a time delay rocket. The effective range was just over half a mile.

In addition to being the first Royal Navy warship to be armed with Sea Dart and Ikara, HMS Bristol introduced further innovations in its 4.5-inch caliber Mk 8 main gun – a weapon that remains in service today – and its Mk 2 Computerized Action Data Automated Weapons System (ADAWS-2), which coordinated the various weapons and sensors.

Although the warship had a flight deck at the rear, a helicopter was generally not carried on board as the ship lacked a hangar or aeronautical facilities, reflecting its original role as an aircraft carrier escort. where he was supposed to work in cooperation with the rotorcraft on board the carrier. Another shortfall was long-range anti-ship weaponry, which would again have to be managed by other elements of the carrier group, including carrier planes.

After entering service, the HMS Bristol spent much of the 1970s undertaking tests of its various weapon and control systems, which then found themselves arming a new generation of (smaller) destroyers, as well as guided-missile frigates.

After a fire in the boiler which burned for four hours off the coast of Wales in February 1974, HMS Bristol lost the use of its steam propulsion system for two years, until repairs could be made. In the meantime, it could still operate with its two Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines.

In 1979, new electronic countermeasures, Corvus glitter launchers and a pair of 20mm Oerlikon cannons were added and the veteran Limbo ASW weapon was discontinued. The old Limbo accommodation was then used for a time as a makeshift swimming pool.

Although primarily engaged in test work, the HMS Bristol was more than capable of serving in combat and its command and control facilities made it an ideal flagship. It also carried more extensive communications and data links than other Royal Navy warships, allowing it to serve as a “node” for other Royal Navy ships to communicate with other Royal Navy ships. NATO – often the US Navy or the French Navy – which may have had incompatibility issues. communication suites.

The destroyer’s value as a flagship was proven during the Falklands War of 1982 when the Royal Navy task force sailed to the South Atlantic to retake the Falkland Islands after the Argentine invasion. The additional capacity of the large destroyer made it possible to take on additional personnel for the role of flagship and it sailed to the South Atlantic as the lead ship of a reinforcement group, before joining the carrier strike group.

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