HMS Fife - The Kingdom Of Fife

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HMS Fife

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HMS Fife (D20) was the first ship of the Batch 2 County-Class Destroyers designed and built for use by the Royal Navy. The contract for her building was awarded to Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd based at Govan on the Clyde on 26th September 1961. She was launched from there on 9th July 1964 and commissioned into service on 21st June 1966.

As orginally built, the ship sported two forward twin-gun turrets capable of firing 4.5” shells and two mountings for 20m Oerlikon cannons and two triple tube launchers for torpedoes. At the stern, a Seaslug GWS.2 Surface to Air System was fitted and where these missiles could attain a height of 65,000 feet with an attack velocity of nearly 1400 miles per hour within a radius close to twenty miles from the ship. The ship also carried a single Westland Wessex helicopter contained within a hanger.

Her average displacement was about 6,500 tonnes with a length of 160 metres and a beam of 16 metres giving a hull ratio of 10 and which is often favoured in the design of fast ships.

In that respect, Fife met this specification with her COSAG, Combined Steam and Gas Turbines driving two shafts to produce a maximum speed in excess of 30 knots. Even at a swift 28 knots, the vessel had a range of about 3,500 miles.

In the mid-1970s, HMS underwent a refit in whic 'B' turret was removed to make way for four Exocet missile launchers. In 1979, HMS Fife provided invaluable assistance to the Caribbean island of Dominica after the island endured above average damage by Hurricane David. During the Falklands War of 1982, HMS Fife was undergoing a refit and so did not participate in this conflict.

In 1986, HMS Fife underwent another refit designed to convert her into a mobile training facility and in which the stern mounted Sea Slug missile system was removed to make way for additional messdecks and classrooms for officers under training (OUT). One of these messdecks was fitted with hammocks and where it popularly believed that residents of that messdeck may have been the last men of the Royal Navy to sleep in that fashion.

A grey hut installed in place of the Seaslug missile launcher and serving as a satellite navigation classroom apparently drew attention and where a Soviet Kashin class destroyer regularly came in close to get better photographs.

In September 1986, Fife undertook a (DTS) Dartmouth Training Ship role meaning ten visits to ten counties in ten weeks in the Mediterranean returning to Portsmouth Port in early December. Her second DTS deployment in January 1987 took her via Brest into the Mediterranean in company with HMS Intrepid.

Her final voyage in Royal Navy Service was to lead a DTS deployment to North America, in which she and HMS Juno sailed to North America and into the Great Lakes, docking for a brief period at Chicago in May 1987. Upon her return to Great Britain in June 1987, she landed the OUTs at Dartmouth then proceeded to Portsmouth for decommissioning.

The ship was sold to Chile on 12 August 1987 and renamed 'Blanco Encalada'. Upon receipt, the ship was taken into refit at Talcahuano, and where the former refit of 1986 made it easier for the Chilean government to extend the rear deck and where a newer and larger hanger was introduced and capable of carrying two 'Cougar' helicopters. The work was completed in May 1988.In 1996 she was fitted with the Israelli designed and built Barak (Barak in Hebrew means Lightning) Surface to Air Missile System.

'Blanco Encalada' was decommissioned from the Chilean Navy on 12 December 2003 and was sold for scrap in November 2005.

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