Hero Class Destroyer Leaders
BNC-HclassDDsmall.jpg
(Note: drawing contains some parts taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 621.5 ft
Beam 60.5 ft
Draft 22.7 feet
Displacement (Standard) 7,520 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 8,650 tons
Performance Speed (max) 33 knots
Speed (cruising) 20 knots
Endurance 6,500 nm @ 20 knots
Armament Guns 2 6 inch L50 Mark XXVI mod 1
Missiles 72 Seadart, 32 Seawolf
Aircraft 2 Fairey Defender Rotodynes

Background

While the Gallant class had proved excellent destroyers and provided the backbone of the Royal Navy destroyer fleet, they gave the appearance of being severely under-armed. Also, despite the rapid increase in size since the E class destroyers, they were still cramped and had inadequate internal space for the electronic equipment needed by a modern warship. Royal Navy designers were painfully aware that the basic hull of their destroyers had remained unchanged since the A class twenty years earlier and that they were falling behind in exploiting the latest techniques of ship design. An entirely new start was required and this was undertaken while the last eight of the Gallant class were under construction.

The first problem was to deal with observed lack of gun power on British destroyers. A single four inch gun compared badly with the eight 4.5 inchw epaons carried by Indian destroyers. The question was, what to do about it? The Royal Navy had done something unprecedented in its history, it had standardized its ships gun armaments on four types, the 35mm Mark 1, the 40mm Mark X, the 4 inch Mark XXIV and the six inch Mark XXVI. Introducing another caliber was not well-regarded and, in any case, would take too long. In fact, development of another gun was started and this would emerge as the 5 inch L70 Mark 1. However, that new gun was not available immediately so another choice had to be made. The designers had a choice between multiple four inch mounts or a smaller number of six inch guns. In the end, they settled on the twin six inch mark XXVI Mod 1. Although externally this was identical to the mount on the Tiger class cruisers, in fact it was lighter and lacked the armor used on the cruiser mountings.

The selection of a six inch gun met with considerable opposition. Some of this reflected Royal Navy experience with heavy guns on destroyers while the use of 5.9 inch guns on German destroyers had been an unmitigated failure. The designers pointed out that the new H class were larger than the pre-Second World War Leander class cruisers in overall size and almost identical to them in tonnage. The size of the new destroyers was driven largely by the internal volume needed and the armament simply exploited that size. There was no doubt that the new Hero class were powerful and well-armed ships, the problem was that they were very costly. As a result, only four of the class were built. Two of the ships, Hero and Hotspur were completed in time to see service in the Falklands war, Hotspur actually running her 'trials' while on the way down to the South Atlantic. Hardy was rushed to completion and also ran trials on her way down to the South Atlantic but she was too late to take part in the fighting. In contrast Havoc was delayed by the concentration on the earlier ships

Once again, the sheer size of these ships led to a debate over whether they really were destroyers. Again, they ran through a series of descriptions including "destroyer leaders" and cruiser-destroyers with the Tresury attempting to have them classed as "cruisers" and used to replace the Tiger class. Eventually the H class were designated as destroyer leaders although they never actually served in the role of flotilla leaders.

Class Members

Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Hero 1976 1976 1979 1981
Hotspur 1977 1977 1980 1982
Hardy 1978 1978 1981 1982 Decommisioned 2015 and scrapped
Havoc 1979 1979 1982 1985 Decommissioned 2015 and scrapped
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