Armed Forces - Royal Navy - n3a7.1 - Royal Naval Vessels -Outline of a Frigate Crew Organisaton of a Frigate



The organisation of a typical RN frigate is the result of hundreds of years of evolution and above all, the ship is organised to fight. The six major departments in a modern frigate are the following:

Executive Department - The Executive Department is responsible for the command of the ship with the First Lieutenant (Executive Officer) having overall responsibility for the Department. The Executive Department has the overall responsibility for the medical, chaplaincy, physical training and seamanship aspects of the ship. In addition discipline and routines in the ship are maintained by the Master At Arms and Leading Regulator.

Warfare Department - This department basically "fights" the ship and is the direct descendant of the Seaman Branch which manned the guns in earlier generations.

Marine Engineering Department - Runs the machinery of the ship ie. the main propulsion units that drive the vessel (gas turbines or diesels), the electrical power supplies and all of the ancillary machinery required.

Weapons Engineering Department - Responsible for the efficient functioning of all of the ship's highly complex sensors and weapons.

Supply Department and Logistics Department - Responsible for the logistic arrangements in the ship ie. catering, spares for all of the weapons, general stores, sensors and machinery spares and for all pay and accounting matters.


The ship’s helicopter is arguably the most potent weapon platform available and can generally carry Stingray torpedoes and depth charges for use against submarines, and Sea Skua missiles for engaging surface targets. The Flight Team is usually composed of a small group of aircrew supported by a team of skilled flight engineers.


All of the departments are inter-dependent and each has a head of department - known collectively as "the HODs". These HODs meet at regular intervals and agree such matters as programmes, training and the efficient administration of everything on board. Whilst each HOD is responsible directly to the commanding officer for the efficiency of his department. HODs are likely to be Lieutenant Commanders and, even if senior to the First Lieutenant, are subordinate to him - the First Lieutenant is the man who takes over if the Commanding Officer is unable to perform his duties.

The cleaning of the ship and all of the general tasks are shared by the departments, and the HODs would discuss these matters at their meetings - for example, they would agree how many sailors would be required from each department for a storing at sea operation. A recent development is the presence on board many RN ships of female personnel. These females share all the duties of their male counterparts but, of course, have separate living quarters.

The Commanding Officer is usually a Commander RN (with a background in the Warfare/Operations Department) and he is known as "The Captain". In command of a squadron of frigates an officer with the rank of Captain RN will be found who doubles the duties both of "Captain" of his ship and Captain (F) to whom the "Captains" of the frigates in his squadron report.

The complement of a frigate relates to the requirement to man the ship for battle. A Type 23 has a complement of 181 (13 Officers).