Castle Class Patrol Vessel - HMS Leeds Castle

These ships were started as a private venture and ordered in August 1980. The design includes an ability to lay mines.

The Castle Class was intended as a series of six offshore patrol vessels, designed in response to criticism of the previous Island class.

In the event, only two ships were built, HMS Leeds Castle and HMS Dumbarton Castle. Both vessels were built by Hall Russell in Aberdeen.

These had significant improvements over the Island class; they were 300 tonnes larger, more stable in heavy seas, 3 knots (5.6 km/h) faster and were fitted with a large flight deck that was capable of supporting a Sea King. Inmarsat commercial communications terminals were fitted and two Avon Sea Rider high-speed craft were embarked.

For brief periods, the ships could accommodate up to 120 troops. Their primary mission was to serve with the Fishery Protection Squadron, protecting both the fishing fleets and the oil and gas fields of the North Sea. In addition, they could also serve as minelayers, and have detergent spraying facilities on board for dispersing oil slicks.

Since the Falklands War, one ship had been in the Falkland Islands as a guardship. HMS Leeds Castle and HMS Dumbarton Castle rotated the role on a three-yearly basis, although the ship's crew usually did a six month rotation.

The Castle Class has now been replaced by the 4 River Class vessels: HMS Clyde, HMS Tyne, HMS Severn and HMS Mersey.

CASTLE CLASS Specifications
Length 81.0m
Displacement 1,427 tons full load
Beam 11.5m
Draught 3.42m
Engines 2 x Rushton 12 RK 320DM diesels
Max Speed 19.5 knots
Range 10,000nm at 12 knots
Complement 45 (6 officers) plus austerity accommodation for 25 Royal Marines
Armament 1 x 30mm Gun 10km range
Helicopters Platform for operating Sea King or Lynx
Sensors Sensors and Combat Data System
HMS Leeds Castle 1981 (Decommissioned 2005)
HMS Dumbarton Castle 1982 (Decommissioned 2008)