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Type 42 Sheffield class

Anti-air warfare destroyer

Type 42 Sheffield class destroyer

The Type 42 or Sheffield class ships continue to perform their air-defense role with the Royal Navy

Entered service 1980
Crew 253 men
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 125 m
Beam 14.3 m
Draught 5.8 m
Displacement, standard 3 500 tons
Displacement, full load 4 100 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 29 knots
Range ?
Propulsion combined gas turbine ; 2 x Rolls-Royce Olympus TM3B delivering 50 000 shp and 2 x Rolls-Royce Tyne RM1C gas turbines delivering 19 900 shp to two shafts
Helicopters 1 x Lynx HAS Mk.3 or EH-101 Merlin
Artillery 1 x Vickers 114-mm gun, two or four Oerlikon 20-mm anti-aircraft guns, 2 x 20-mm Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
Missiles 1 x Sea Dart twin launcher (22 missiles)
Torpedoes 2 x twin 324-mm Mk.3 torpedo tubes


   The Type 42, also refferred as the Sheffield class destroyer emerged from the cancelled Type 82, which yielded a single ship - HMS Bristol - in the 1960s. The Type 42 was developed as an air-defence and escort ship. Outfitted with Sea Dart missiles to deter air threats, it was smaller and cheaper than the Type 82.

   The Type 42 was the Royal Navy's primary air defense platform, providing full area air defence coverage for other ships. The Sheffield class also had a limited anti-shipping capability. Designed with the smallest possible hull, the Type 42 placed a heavy emphasis on automation to reduce the ship's complement and crew workload. The first vessel, HMS Sheffield, was launched in 1971, and the entire class was completed by 1985. Two ships, Hercules and Santisima Trinidad, were built for Argentina and both were in service by 1981.

   There were three sub-classes within the Type 42 series. Batch 2 ships were similar to the original Batch 1 vessels, but contained an improved sensor suite, including the Type 1022 long-range air search radar. Batch 3, often referred to as the Manchester class - on account of the lead ship's name - have a stretched hull. This extra space allows for additional weapons systems and increases stability in bad weather. In addition, the Sea Dart missile system and Mk 8 gun could be spaced slightly further apart to improve their arcs of fire. To the rear, the extension allowed for extra space on the flight deck.

   The Sheffield class saw active service during the Falklands War in 1982. The Argentine Navy also deployed its two Type 42 vessels, and the Royal Navy's ships were painted with a large black band surrounding their hulls to assist identification. Five of the Royal Navy's Type 42 vessels took part in the conflict: HMS Coventry, HMS Sheffield, HMS Cardiff, HMS Exeter and HMS Glasgow all provided fleet air defence to the task force aircraft carriers. The HMS Sheffield was lost to an Argentine Exocet missile on 4 May 1982 and, 20 days later, HMS Coventry was sunk, after being hit by three bombs.

   Several lessons were learnt from the Type 42's experiences in the South Atlantic. Most importantly, the Royal Navy identified the need for a CIWS to protect the vessels against low-flying aircraft and sea-skimming missiles. To this end, a 20-mm gun system was installed, together with chaff decoys. The ships were also fitted with Type 996 radar, and an improved Sea Dart fusing and control system.

   The Sheffield class fared much better during the 1990-91 Gulf War, when the ships' Lynx helicopters extended radar coverage. Furthermore, the Lynx deployed the Sea Skua anti-shipping missile and, flying from HMS Gloucester and HMS Cardiff, were successful in destroying several Iraqi small combat craft and anti-aircraft batteries. HMS Gloucester scored a spectacular success when it detected and destroyed a hostile 'Silkworm' missile, which was targeting the battleship USS Missouri.

   Following the end of the Gulf War, Type 42 ships have helped to enforce sea embargoes in the Gulf and the Adriatic during the war in Yugoslavia. HMS Southampton and HMS Liverpool assisted humanitarian operations in Montserrat and East Timor, while HMS Glasgow supported the UN peacekeeping force in East Timor.

   Currently Royal Navy decommissioned all eight Sheffield class ships. The HMS Exeter and HMS Southampton were decommissioned in 2007. The Batch 1 vessels either sunk during Falklands War, or were decommissioned. Eight operational Sheffield class ships were replaced with Type 45, also known as the Daring class destroyers.


Video of the Type 42 Sheffield class anti-air warfare destroyer

Type 42 Sheffield class destroyer

Type 42 Sheffield class destroyer

Type 42 Sheffield class destroyer

Type 42 Sheffield class destroyer

Type 42 Sheffield class destroyer

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