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HMS Exeter

Hong Kong's Senior Naval Officer, Commodore Peter Melson, CBE, FNI, Royal Navy, recently arranged a branch visit to a modern Royal Navy warship in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.

The 3,500 tonne HMS Exeter is a Type-42 guided missile destroyer commissioned in 1980. It chief combat role is air defence.

Tyne and Olympus gas turbines enable a top speed of 30 knots. The main armament of Sea Dart missiles has a range of 40 kilometres. After launching, the rocket and ramjet powered Sea Dart is guided in initial flight by the ship mounted 909 radar, housed in two giant domes fore and aft.

The missile's own nose-mounted radar then locks on to the target. Destruction of the enemy aircraft is achieved by the Sea Dart's warhead which explodes into thousands of jagged fragments.

Exeter's Sea Darts shot down two Argentinian aircraft during the Falklands campaign. The missile's most acclaimed kill, though ' was of a Chinese Silkworm missile during the Gulf War. HMS Gloucester's Sea Dart struck down the shore-launched projectile seconds before it impacted upon the American battleship Missouri.

The 114mm. Vickers gun on the forecastle has a range of 22 kilometres. It can fire 25 rounds a minute at surface, shore and air targets.

Like many British warships these days, HMS Exeter bristles with secondary gun armament.

Computer controlled Phalanx six-barrel 20mm cannon systems, mounted port and starboard, provide defence against homing missiles. Backing up these weapons are four single 20mm cannon mounts.

Deception and confusion are vital components of modern naval warfare, and the destroyer is well equipped in both these areas. Upper deck mountings can launch anti-radar chaff missiles. Infra-red and floating decoys are also fitted. These systems hamper the effectiveness of enemy radar transmissions. Anti-submarine capability is provided by on board sonar, and torpedoes launched from the ship's Lynx helicopter. The Lynx can also fire the Sea Skua anti-ship missile.

Mast mounted electronic warfare equipment intercepts and analyses enemy transmisions.

Type 1022 and 966 radars enable long-range air and surface surveillance.

This compact and well equipped warship, commanded by Captain Paul Herington, MA, arrived in Hong Kong after taking part in the Starfish naval exercises with the Australian, New Zealand, Singaporean and Malaysian navies. A visit to Qingdao, the headquarters port for China's northern naval fleet, was scheduled for shortly after leaving Hong Kong.

After a most informative and professional tour, conducted by Deputy Weapons Electrical Officer Lieutenant Dave Cummings, Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander David Currie kindly extended the hospitality of the destroyer's wardroom to the NI party.

Contributed by Trevor Hollingsbee, AMNI
Seaways January 1997
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