For many years the Type 42s have had a close relationship with the Falklands and this set of postage stamps depicts 4 Type 42s that have had a particular association with the islands.
The return of HMS Edinburgh from the South Atlantic to her home port of Portsmouth in March 2013 marked the end of the operational life of the Type 42 destroyers. Type 42s have been the backbone of the Royal Navy’s fleet since the first, HMS Sheffield, was commissioned in 1975. Edinburgh was the 14th and final Type 42 to enter service. As well as their aggressive capabilities, the Type 42 were capable of providing aid to civilian powers, disaster relief and many similar peace time duties that they were called upon to perform.
The Type 42s were light guided missile destroyers designed in the 1960’s to fill the gap left by the cancellation of the larger Type 82s. The first ship of the class, HMS Sheffield, was ordered in 1968 and launched in 1971 by HM Queen Elizabeth II prior to being commissioned in 1975. In total 14 Type 42s were constructed for the Royal Navy.
The Type 42 was always an ‘austerity design’, although by the batch 3 ships many of the problems had been resolved. In the design stage it was decided not exceed a certain hull length in the belief that costs could be reduced. The first 8 ships were too short and this caused various problems throughout their lives. Poor sea-keeping was not only tiring for crews but affected the operation of the gun and delicate missile launcher on the foredeck. Rather cramped with a crew of around 250, there was little margin for additional equipment. However, unlike the Type 82, there was a hangar and flight deck which allowed the carrying of a Wasp and then the superb Lynx helicopter which gave the ship a major anti-submarine capability and light anti-shipping ability.
The Royal Navy pioneered gas turbine propulsion and the Type 42 was powered by 2 Rolls Royce Olympus and 2 Tyne gas turbine engines which were light, easy to maintain or replace, flexible in operation and could quickly accelerate the ship to 30+knots. Their main drawback was heavy fuel consumption and considerable noise at speed, a significant problem when hunting submarines.
The first 6 ships of the Batch 1 design were completed 1975-79. The 4 Batch 2 ships (which included HMS Exeter and Liverpool) with improved electronics and radar and were completed 1980-83. The 4 Batch 3 ships (which included HMS Edinburgh) were completed 1982-85. These had an additional 12 metres length inserted in the foredeck and slightly increased beam giving them far better sea-keeping qualities.
Adapted from Cold War air defence specialists to more general purpose escorts they have seen service around the world and participated in several conflicts. With seven ships involved in Operation Corporate and the immediate aftermath the Falklands conflict has dominated the story of the Type 42s. They achieved their main strategic objectives but with HMS Sheffield and Coventry being sunk and HMS Glasgow damaged many weaknesses were exposed. This led to an extensive re-think about the build and future re-fits, although the Type would always be limited by its age, overall design and size.
Later uses for the Type 42s included the Gulf Wars, West Indies counter drugs operations and South Atlantic Patrol. There was essentially no task this ship class was not engaged in over its 38 year collective career.
In the 1st Gulf war HMS Gloucester grabbed the headlines by destroying an Iraqi Silkworm anti-ship missile aimed at USS Missouri. Despite many more advanced missile systems in service across the world’s navies, to this day HMS Gloucester remains the only ship to have ever shot down a missile with another missile in combat. In Operation Telec, 2003 (2nd Gulf war) HMS Liverpool, Edinburgh and York were deployed in support of land forces and mine-sweeping operations and HMS Liverpool provided a fitting swan song for the fighting 42s, serving with distinction off Libya in 2011.
These are headline events involving the Type 42s but their work through 4 decades involved a diverse range of tasks supporting British interests, from patrolling UK waters, to the Persian Gulf, the Caribbean, the Falklands and around the world. As well as their aggressive capabilities, the Type 42s were capable of providing aid to civilian powers, disaster relief and the many similar peace time duties that they were called upon to perform. They were busy on deployment all over the world right up until the end of their lives and their contribution has been immense.
On 6th June 2013 HMS Edinburgh hauled down the White Ensign in Portsmouth. The destroyer’s Commanding Officer Cdr. Nick Borbone told those present. “These are the final moments of HMS Edinburgh and the final moments of the Type 42 – a class which has served the Navy and the nation with distinction. This is truly the end of an era. There is no doubt that she is a great ship but it is the people who have made her.” Perhaps as many as 30,000 men and women have served in Type 42s since the first, HMS Sheffield, entered service in the mid-70s.
Designer John Batchelor MBE
Printer BDT International
Perforation 14 per 2 cms
Stamp size 28.45 x 42.58mm
Sheet Layout 10
Release date 22 December 2014
Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd