(Note: drawing contains some parts taken from Shipbucket.com)
|Performance||Speed (max)||34.5 knots|
|Speed (cruising)||16 knots|
|Endurance||6,500 nm @ 16 knots|
|Armament||Guns||4 4 inch L62 Mark XXIV Mod.1, 8 35mm|
The Daring class owed their origins to the decision by Chile to order a squadron of six new destroyers to replace the old Serrano class ships. The contract was awarded to the British Vickers yard in 1954 with a firm order for two destroyers and options for four more. These options were exercised in 1955 so that all six ships were on order. The first pair, Almirante Williams and Almirante Riveros, were laid down in 1954. At that point problems quickly began to emerge. The Vickers yard had been devastated during the Second World War and the occupation. Being on the west coast, it had suffered particularly badly from American air strikes. Not only was the yard itself in very bad condition but much of its skilled workforce had dispersed to other yards. As a result, work proceded slowly and the four 1955 ships were not laid down until 1956/57. The first pair were supposed to have been delivered in 1957 but were only launched in that year and were not completed until 1959. By then, the Chilean Navy was regretting its decision to order the ships that already appeared dated in comparison with the new Indian and Australian ships then entering service. Accordingly, in 1958, they cancelled the order for the remaining four ships. At that point, the British Ministry of Defence stepped in and purchased the four incomplete hulls, taking over the contracts for their construction. This arrangement saved the Chilean Navy from having to pay cancellation charges on those four ships, and allowed the Royal Navy to acquire four new destroyers at a quarter of their construction cost. The purchase was paid for by delaying two Cleopatra class destroyers, one of which was then re-ordered the following year.
Although they had a superficially modern appearance, the Almirante class were really only enlarged versions of the pre-war British H class. They were armed with four four inch Mark XXIV Mod.1 guns, the Mod.1 being identical with the Mark XXIV Mod.0 used on the Boadicea and Cleopatra classes except for a larger gunhouse. They were also equipped with four single 40mm anti-aircraft guns and a five-tube bank for 21 inch torpedoes. They were powered by two sets of Yarrow machinery totalling 60,000 shaft horsepower, giving them a speed of 34.5 knots. On taking possession of the four incomplete hulls, the Royal Navy realized that significant changes would be needed. The torpedo tubes were removed and replaced by an extension to the upper deck that provided badly-needed extra living accommodation. The single 40mm guns were considered a waste of weight and replaced by four of a new Oerlikon 35mm twin mount (the same gun as used by the Australian and Indian navies but in a larger, better-shielded and fully-stabilized turret. Radar fire control was provided for these guns. The original fire control for the main guns was considered excessively elaborate and proved unreliable. It was replaced by ex-U.S. Mark 37 directors obtained as military surplus for scrap prices.
Even with the Royal Navy riding herd on Vickers, the four Daring class destroyers were not completed until 1960/61. The sheer size of these ships, almost 50 percent heavier than the Boadicea class, led to debate over whether they remained destroyers. They ran through a series of names including "Destroyer Leaders", "Cruiser-destroyers" and "Daring class ships" before it was finally understood that destroyers had taken a leap upwards in size and that the Darings were actually modestly-sized by the now-established standards. This debate had one beneficial effect, the Royal Navy realized that a much larger destroyer was inevitable given modern electronics and that attempts to restrain the size of their destroyers would result in ships of greatly limited utility. This had a pronounced effect on the Fearless class destroyers that were just entering the design process.
When they finally joined the fleet, the Darings were impressive ships and quickly gained public attention (their Chilean ancestry being conveniently forgotten). Behind the scenes, though, all was not well. Despite the space added during construction, the enlisted men's accommodation was cramped and uncomfortable. Although all enlisted berths were provided with bunks rather than hammocks, there were insufficient to provide for the whole crew and hot-bunking was required. In contrast, the officer's accommodation was luxurious to the point of opulence and the difference made for unhappy crews. While the machinery was nominally the same type as installed on the Boadicea class, in reality it was just different enough from the R.N. version to require a separate parts inventory. The ships were top-heavy and wet forward. Finally, they were designed for a cruising speed of 16 knots while the rest of the Navy was standardizing on 20 knots.
The Darings found their niche as station flagships. Usually, three of them would be assigned to three of the Royal Navy's foreign stations while the fourth was being refitted. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, they would usually be found at West Indies Station, Malta Station and Indian Ocean Station. Following the 1981 Simonstown Agreement, HMS Dashing was the first Royal Navy ship to take up station flagship duties there. This was to be of critical importance when the Falklands War broke out.
|Daring (ex Almirante Cochrane)||1955||1956||1958||1960|
|Dashing (ex Almirante Latorre)||1955||1956||1958||1960|
|Deadly (Ex Almirante Lynch||1955||1957||1959||1961|
|Dainty (Ex Almirante Condell)||1955||1957||1959||1961|