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:
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
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
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
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).