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The Type 82 or Bristol-class destroyer was to be a class of four Royal Navy warships intended as area air-defence destroyers to replace the County-class destroyers, and to serve as escorts to the planned CVA-01 aircraft carriers. Eventually only a single ship, HMS Bristol was built and served as a test bed for much of the modern technology and armaments seen in later classes of Royal Navy warships. Sometimes described as a "light cruiser", she was officially classified as a destroyer.
The CVA-01 aircraft carrier project was cancelled in the 1966 Defence White Paper, eliminating the requirement for the Type 82 class. Nevertheless, one hull of the original four was ordered on 4 October 1966 for use as a testbed for new technologies. HMS Bristol was laid down in 1967, featuring four new systems;
* The Sea Dart missile that would later be fitted in the Type 42 destroyers and Invincible-class carriers.
* The Ikara anti-submarine weapon, later fitted to some Leander-class frigates.
* A new 4.5 inch (114 mm) Mk 8 main gun.
* The advanced ADAWS-2 (Action Data Automation Weapons System Mk.2), a computer system designed to coordinate the ship's weapons and sensors.
The latter feature, although not externally apparent, was perhaps the most pioneering of the design; a leap forward from the rudimentary action information system of the "Counties" and its heavy reliance on manual data input.
The Type 82 was followed into service by the smaller Type 42 destroyer that featured the same Sea Dart missile, 114 mm Mark 8 gun and integrated ADAWS. It was not a direct replacement for the Type 82 per se, but filled the area air defence role in a Cold War, North Atlantic navy. The Type 42 design was however smaller and had a lower manpower requirement and as such many more hulls could be brought into service than a design of the Type 82's size. It also featured a flight deck and hangar for its own air component providing improved anti-submarine, surface-strike and general utility to the design.
The Type 82 was loosely based on the layout of the County-class destroyer and the Type 12 Leander-class frigate (hence the inclusion in the escort Type numbering system.)
The vessel was powered by a combined steam and gas (COSAG) plant, and was the last warship designed for the Royal Navy to be powered by steam. The steam plant vented through the large fore funnel while the gas plant exhausted though a side-by-side pair of aft funnels (on either side of the extensive air intakes and filters for the gas turbines), giving rise to a unique three-funnelled layout.
The new Sea Dart missile was fired from a twin-arm launcher on the quarterdeck and there was a pair of radar Type 909 target illumination sets, an improvement over the single radar Type 901 set of the County-class design.
The single Mark 8 114 mm gun was not intended as an anti-aircraft weapon, and as such had an elevation of only 55°. The weapon was designed specifically for reliability over rate of fire, allowing only a single mounting to be shipped, and the comparatively low rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute was more than suitable for the intended anti-ship and shore-bombardment roles.
The third weapon system was the Australian Ikara anti-submarine weapon; a rocket-powered aircraft capable of carrying a Mk.44 homing torpedo or nuclear depth bomb out to 10 miles from the ship. The Ikara primary anti-submarine weapon was backed up by a Mark 10 Limbo anti-submarine mortar. Although capable of landing a Westland Wasp helicopter on the quarterdeck the ship lacked a hangar and aviation facilities and thus had to rely on external air support.
The original design called for a long range 3-D air search radar to be fitted, and early drawings and artist's impression show a large dome on the bridge to carry this set. A similar set was to be fitted to the CVA-01 design. However, the projected Anglo-Dutch system never materialised, and instead she was fitted with the venerable radar Type 965 air search radar, with a "twin bedstead" AKE-2 antennae, on a stump foremast. Radar Type 992Q low-angle search was carried on the tall, slender mainmast and as such the electronics fit had not advanced significantly from the County class. Type 909 sets were shipped fore and aft for Sea Dart fire control, allowing two targets to be engaged at any one time.
The main advance in the design was with how the sensor data was processed and displayed. The ADAWS-2 system, based on two Ferranti FM1600 computers, integrated the identification, tracking and engagement of targets into a single system. ADAWS-2 could accept input from any of the ship’s radars or sonars, identify targets and produce continuous track histories. Using this information it could evaluate threat levels and control the engagement of targets using the relevant weapons systems. The whole process occurred almost automatically, requiring only oversight and command from the human operator. This new generation of warship would be commanded from an operations room within the ship rather than the traditional location of the bridge.
Despite introducing various new systems, the role for which Bristol was designed never materialised. She faced the problem of entering a navy that had no operational role or requirement for her and that was faced with rapidly changing priorities. This single, large ship was manpower- and maintenance-intensive and was not fitted out to the standard required for front line deployment.
The major shortcomings in the design were twofold; the lack of an air component and the lack of a long-range anti-ship weapon. Within a few years these features would be standard on ships of this size and type and as such the Type 82 was somewhat lacking. These deficiencies limited her to squadron (rather than individual patrol) duties, and Bristol is usually seen as something of a white elephant.
The role which the Type 82 was built for never materialised and as such she spent most of her service in the 1970s trialling and building up experience using the new weapons and computer systems. A major boiler fire in 1974 destroyed the steam plant. Older ships may have been crippled by this, but Bristol was able to operate for 3 years using only her gas plant, demonstrating the flexibility and utility of the latter. The steam plant was repaired in 1976 and it was not until 1979 that she was fitted out for frontline service with ECM, Corvus countermeasures launchers and a pair of World War II-era Oerlikon 20 mm cannons. During this refit the Limbo weapon was removed; the well subsequently saw service as a makeshift swimming pool.(!)
Thanks to her size, Bristol was suitable for use as a flagship as she could embark the extra staff members necessary for this role. As such, she served as the Royal Navy flagship during Exercise Ocean Safari 81. After a short refit, during which the mortar well was plated over to allow the landing of large helicopters on the quarterdeck, she joined the Royal Navy task force in the South Atlantic in the 1982 Falklands War as a component of the carrier battle-group. After the conflict she remained ‘’in situ’’ as flagship of the remaining Royal Navy forces. On return to the UK she entered a refit and, in light of the lessons of the conflict, she had her light anti aircraft weapons augmented with a pair of twin Oerlikon / BMARC 30 mm GCM-A03 and a pair of single Oerlikon / BMARC 20 mm GAM-B01 guns. Loral-Hycor SRBOC countermeasures launchers were also added to augment the elderly Corvus launchers.
With the Royal Navy short on hulls after damages and losses incurred in the Falklands, Bristol remained in commission and made several overseas deployments until paid off for refit in 1984. Another boiler explosion when entering refit caused extensive damage and had to be repaired. The major work undertaken in the refit was to replace the obsolete radar Type 965 with the new radar Type 1022 for long range air search duties. In addition, the Ikara system was removed and it was intended that it be replaced with two triple STWS-1 launchers for 324 mm anti-submarine torpedoes, although these were never fitted.
In 1987 she became part of Dartmouth training squadron, for which duties she had extra accommodation and classrooms added in the former Ikara and Limbo spaces. Finally she was withdrawn from service on 14 June 1991 and configured for her current role in 1993 as a replacement static training ship at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth.
Revival of the large air defence escort
In 1999, the eventual replacement for the Type 42 was announced. Unlike in the 1970s, when economics dictated a large number of smaller hulls, the Type 45 destroyer is even bigger than the Type 82, but will be limited to a total of six units, which will primarily be charged with escorting the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers. In this way, the Type 45 can be seen as the true modern descendent of the Type 82.
1. HMS Bristol (D23) Commissioned 1973. Withdrawn from service 1991. Refitted as static training ship in 1993 - still (technically) 'commissioned'.
Type: Air Defence Destroyer
Displacement: 6,400 tonnes (standard), 7,100 tonnes (full)
Length: 154.53 m (507 ft)
Beam: 16.76 m (55 ft)
Draught: 7.5 m
Propulsion: COSAG, 2 standard range geared steam turbines 30,000 hp, 2 Bristol Siddeley Olympus TM1A gas turbines 30,000 hp, 2 shafts, 2 boilers
Speed: 28 kt (52 km/h)
Range: 5,750 nautical miles (10,650 km) at 18 kt (33 km/h)
Crew Complement: 397 (30 officers)
Electronic warfare and decoys: UAA1
4.5 in (114 mm) Vickers Mk.8 gun
GWS 30 Sea Dart SAM Launcher (38 rounds + 10 additional warheads),
Ikara A/S Launcher (at least 24 rounds) (until 1984),
Mark 10 Limbo A/S Mortar (until 1979),
2 × twin Oerlikon / BMARC GCM-A03 30 mm guns (from 1983),
2 × Oerlikon / BMARC GAM-B01 20 mm guns (from 1983),
2 × Oerlikon 20 mm guns (from 1979).
Aviation facilities: Flight deck. No hangar.