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Warship Wednesday6th September 2023

HMS SCYLLA F71 – Leander Class Frigate (Batch 3A)

Black and white image of HMS Scylla filled with people and adorned with flags.

HMS SCYLLA, a Leander Class Frigate (Batch 3A), was constructed at HM Dockyard Plymouth, and launched on 8th Aug 1968.

SCYLLA was 372ft in length x 43ft beam, and displaced 2450 tons (standard load) / 2860 tons (full load) with a maximum speed of 30 knots. Ships compliment was 263 (17 Officers) / 260 (19 Officers) after conversion.

Commissioned into the Royal Navy on 12th February 1970, during a part of her service with the RN, SCYLLA was a Chatham-based ship.

As built, SCYLLA’S armament consisted of: 1 x Quadruple Seacat Launcher, 2 x 4.5inch guns in a twin turret, 1 x 20mm AA guns, 1 x 3 barrelled Limbo Mk 10 anti-submarine mortar and a Wasp Helicopter. The Leander class was designed before the introduction of guided weapons, therefore, when the first ships were around 10 years old, the weapons and electrical systems needed updating to prevent the entire class becoming obsolete.

MODERNISATION

The Leander class underwent a modernisation programme of ‘Batch’ conversions (all but 5 ships of the class were converted, these five ships would have been Batch 3B). Batch 3A updates included a Seawolf missile system and Exocet anti-ship missile in place of 4.5in turret.

SCYLLA was converted at HM Dockyard Plymouth between November 1980 and December 1984 (work was delayed due to the Falklands crisis).

The conversion provided: 4 x Exocet sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, Seawolf Surface to Air GWS 25 missile system (2 x Sextuple launchers for anti-aircraft / anti-missile defence), 2 x single Oerlikon 20mm guns, Lynx helicopter, 6 x anti-submarine Torpedo Tubes. An enlarged hangar had to be fitted for the Lynx helicopter.

Five frigates were converted to Batch 3A ships, SCYLLA, JUPITER, ANDROMEDA, HERMIONE, and CHARYBDIS. The conversion gave the ships most of the capabilities of the much larger Type 22 frigates.

LIFE AFTER THE ROYAL NAVY

HMS SCYLLA paid off from Royal Navy in 1993, by then she was the last of her class still on active service.

In 2004 SCYLLA was sunk to form an artificial reef off Whitsands Bay, Cornwall. The Leander class was the last class of steam powered warships built for the RN.

In Greek mythology, Scylla is a sea monster inhabiting a rock in the straits of Messina, which devoured the victims of the whirlpools created by fellow monster Charybdis (also the name of a Leander class frigate).

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