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Warship Wednesday22nd March 2023

Warship Wednesday – HMS ASHANTI

On this month’s edition of Warship Wednesday, we take a look at a ship with revolutionary new features that had never been seen before on a Royal Navy Ship, which toured the world.

This is the story of HMS ASHANTI: 

ASHANTI was the lead ship of the Tribal, or Type 81, class of general-purpose frigates, with seven ships of the class being built. The Tribals were of an innovative design. They were the first ships in the Royal Navy to have a combined steam and gas turbine (COSAG) propulsion system. They were also the first frigates to incorporate a helicopter (with hanger) for Anti-submarine (AS) operations, and were the first ships to be equipped with full air-conditioning in all accommodation and most working spaces.

ASHANTI was built by Yarrows at Scotstoun on the Clyde, being laid down on 15 January 1958, launched on 9 March 1959 and completed on 23 November 1961. Her base port was Devonport.

As built, Ashanti was 2300 tons, standard displacement (2700 tons full load), with a length of 360ft overall, and beam of 42.5ft and a draught of 17.5ft. She was armed with 2 x 4.5inch single mount guns (taken from C class destroyers), 2 x single mount 40mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns (later replaced by 2 x 4 launcher Seacat missiles systems, and 2 x single 20mm AA guns), 1 x three barrelled Limbo Mk 10 AS mortar, and latterly with 1 Westland Wasp HAS1 helicopter. Maximum speed was 28 knots (32 miles per hour). Complement of 253 (13 officers and 240 ratings).

ASHANTI was named after the Ashanti ethnic group from what is now Ghana. Her Motto was “Kum apim, apim beba” (Kill a thousand, a thousand will come).

On completion, ASHANTI initially undertook acceptance trials, including those for the Westland Wasp helicopter. From 1962 to 1965 she mostly operated in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. She then operated in home and Mediterranean waters. In October 1967 she paid-off for refit, returning to service in November 1969.

In 1974, while returning to Britain from the Caribbean, ASHANTI suffered two fatalities when a large wave struck her when she was 80 miles east of Hamilton, Bermuda. In March 1977, she was extensively damaged, and three sailors died, after a fire broke out in a boiler room whilst in the Bristol Channel.

ASHANTI paid off into reserve and was refit at Chatham in 1977 before becoming a harbour training ship at Portsmouth in 1981. She was sunk as a target in 1988.

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