Royal Navy - Royal Naval Vessels - Duke Class Frigates (Type 23) RESPONSE FORCE TASK GROUP (RFTG) - n3a7 - Armed Forces



HMS Somerset

The first of class was ordered from Yarrows on 29 October 1984 at the height of the Cold War. Further batches of three were ordered in September 1986, July 1988, December 1989, January 1992 and February 1996. There were some early problems, e.g. the Command System was not operational as quickly as had been planned, but these have been overcome and the RN has made steady improvements to weapons and sensors in the ships over the years since first introduction.

From 1999, the Lynx helicopter was replaced on some of the vessels by the EH 101 Merlin helicopter. These ships are powered by a CODLAG system (Combined diesel-electric and gas-turbine propulsion) and the diesel-electric is used for minimum underwater noise during ASW operations.

TYPE 23 FRIGATE Specifications
Length 133.0 m
Displacement 4,200 tons full load
Beam 16.2
Draught 5.5 m
Max Speed 28 knots
Range 7,800 nm at 15 knots
Engines CODLAG Type system with 2 x Rolls Royce Spey SM1A gas turbines delivering 18,770 shp each.
For vessels after HMS Westminster (1994) 2 x Rolls Royce Spey SM1C delivering 26,150 shp each
Complement 181 (13 officers)
Armament Surface-to-Surface Missiles (SSM)
8 x Harpoon (130 km range)
Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) Sea Wolf (6 km range)
1 x 4.5 in Gun (25 rounds/min 22 km range)
2 x 30 mm twin Guns (10 km range)
Aircraft Lynx/Wildcat or Merlin (Missile and Torpedo armed)
Sensors Modern above and under water sensors

HMS Argyll (F231) 1989 (Planned out of service date 2023)
HMS Lancaster (F229) 1990 (Planned out of service date 2024)
HMS Iron Duke (F234) 1991 (Planned out of service date 2025)
HMS Monmouth (F235) 1991 (Planned out of service date 2026)
HMS Montrose (F236) 1992 (Planned out of service date 2027)
HMS Westminster (F237) 1992 (Planned out of service date 2028)
HMS Northumberland (F238) 1992 (Planned out of service date 2029)
HMS Richmond (F239) 1993 (Planned out of service date 2030)
HMS Somerset (F82) 1994 (Planned out of service date 2031)
HMS Sutherland (F81) 1996 (Planned out of service date 2033)
HMS Kent (F78) 1998 (Planned out of service date 2034)
HMS St Albans (F83) 2000 (Planned out of service date 2036)
HMS Portland (F79) 1999 (Planned out of service date 2035)


The RFTG was created following the 2010 defence review and is a rapid reaction force held at high readiness, that deals with unexpected world events that require military intervention.

During late 2012 the RFTG took part in a major multi-national exercise in the Mediterranean (Cougar 12) and was structured around the following units:

HMS Bulwark
HMS Illustrious
HMS Northumberland
HMS Montrose
RFA Mounts Bay
MV Hartland Point

Headquarters of 3 Commando Brigade
45 Commando
30 Commando IX Group
539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines

814 Naval Air Squadron (Merlins)
815 Naval Air Squadron (Lynx)
829 Naval Air Squadron (Merlins)
845 Naval Air Squadron ( Commando-carrying Sea Kings)
846 Naval Air Squadron ( Commando-carrying Sea Kings)
854 Naval Air Squadron (airborne surveillance and control Sea Kings)

656 Squadron Army Air Corps (Apache gunships)
659 Squadron Army Air Corps (Lynx)