HMS Somerset (F82)

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Royal Navy Type 23 Frigate HMS Somerset MOD 45153155.jpg
HMS Somerset in Indian Ocean, 2011
NameHMS Somerset
OperatorRoyal Navy
OrderedJanuary 1992
BuilderYarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down12 October 1992
Launched25 June 1994
Sponsored byLady Layard
Commissioned20 September 1996
RefitMajor 2012-2013, LIFEX 2019 onwards
HomeportHMNB Devonport, Plymouth
  • Foy pour Devoir
  • "Faith for Duty"
Statusin active service
General characteristics
Class and typeType 23 Frigate
Displacement4,900 t (4,800 long tons; 5,400 short tons)[1]
Length133 m (436 ft 4 in)
Beam16.1 m (52 ft 10 in)
Draught7.3 m (23 ft 11 in)
SpeedIn excess of 28 kn (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range7,500 nautical miles (14,000 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)
Complement185 (accommodation for up to 205)
Electronic warfare
& decoys
Aircraft carried
Aviation facilities

HMS Somerset is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy. She is the eleventh ship of the class to join the fleet since 1989. She was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd on the River Clyde, in Scotland and was launched in June 1994 by Lady Elspeth Layard, wife of then 2nd Sea Lord Admiral and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command Admiral Sir Michael Layard. She entered service in 1996. Lady Layard is the ship's sponsor. She is named after the Dukedom of Somerset.

The fourth Somerset to serve in the Royal Navy, she has inherited four battle honours from previous ships of the name; Vigo Bay (1702), Velez Malaga (1704), Louisburg (1758) and Quebec (1759). The previous ships all served during the 18th century and ensured that the name Somerset played a significant part in that period of naval history.

Somerset's home port is HMNB Devonport. The ship has the Freedom of the City of Wells and is also affiliated with the County of Somerset, the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, the 2nd and 4th Battalions of The Rifles (inherited from affiliation with the Royal Green Jackets), TS Weston and TS Queen Elizabeth Sea Cadet Units, Downside, Baytree and Helles Schools, Bridgwater College and the Somerset Legion House of The Royal British Legion. The 19th Duke of Somerset takes a keen interest in the ship and is a regular visitor, and the ship also hosted Harry Patch, Simon Weston (in place of Johnson Beharry) and Marcus Trescothick whilst docked at Avonmouth for a remembrance service to launch the 2008 British Legion Poppy Appeal.[2]

Operational history


On 2 November 1999, Somerset returned briefly to Sierra Leone to stand by for a possible evacuation of British nationals during a breakdown in the peace talks, though after several days of the talks resumed and Somerset was withdrawn.[3]


In 2007, the first at-sea firing trials of the UK Royal Navy's new 30mm DS30M Mark 2 Automated Small Calibre Gun system were completed by Somerset.[4]

On 18 February 2009, Somerset sailed from Devonport as part of the Taurus 09 deployment under Commander UK Amphibious Task Group, Commodore Peter Hudson. She was joined on this deployment by landing platform dock Bulwark as Hudson's flagship, landing platform helicopter Ocean, Type 23 frigate Argyll and four ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.[5]

In June 2009, she took part in exercise Bersama Shield with Ocean and RFA Wave Ruler off the Malay Peninsula.[6]

In May 2010 she sailed for Operation Telic, conducting boarding operations and oil platform protection operations in the Persian Gulf.


On 3 May 2012, she began a refit at the Devonport Royal Dockyard operated by the Babcock International Group. The refit was expected to take 9 months.[7] She took part in Exercise Joint Warrior 2013.[8] In January 2015, HMS Somerset took part in the search for the crew of the Cyprus-registered cement carrier Cemfjord, which had capsized in the Pentland Firth.[9]

Somerset moored alongside the World War II cruiser Belfast on the Thames in London

On 23 April 2015, with the Border Force cutter Valiant, she intercepted the Tanzanian-registered tug Hamal in the North Sea about 100 miles off Aberdeen, leading to the seizure of more than three tons of cocaine, believed to be at the time the single largest seizure of a Class A drug in the UK.[10]

In Autumn 2015, she carried out security patrols in support of the European Heads of Government meeting in Malta.[11]

In November 2015, she visited Valencia - the first Royal Navy ship to do so in a number of years.[12] While there, she met a delegation led by Juan Carlos Valderrama Zurián, the Central Government Representative for the Valencia region, and hosted a lunch to thank representatives of various Armed Forces charities for their work.[12] In December 2015, she returned to port after performing guard duties at the 2015 CHOGM.[13]

In March 2016, as the Russian destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, a tanker and a tug entered the United Kingdom's exclusive economic zone, they were intercepted and escorted by Somerset.[14]

Somerset was again tasked with escorting a Russian vessel in May 2017 when she monitored the Kilo-class submarine Krasnodar as it transited the English Channel.[15]

Somerset was awarded the 'Fleet Frigate Effectiveness Trophy' for 2017. A Royal Navy press release said; "HMS Somerset has been awarded the accolade for being the most successful and versatile of all of the Royal Navy’s frigates, which are widely considered to be the workhorses of the fleet."[16]



  1. "Type 23 Frigate". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 19 January 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  2. Scott, Aleisha (30 October 2008). "Ypres veteran Harry Patch, 110, launches poppy appeal". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
  3. Roberts, John (2009). Safeguarding the Nation: The Story of the Modern Royal Navy. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1591148128.
  4. Scott, Richard (30 October 2007). "ASCG enhances Type 23 close-in defence". Jane's International Defence Review. Archived from the original on 1 November 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  5. "TAURUS 09". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. "HMS Ocean (LPH01) Helicopter Carrier". Naval Technology. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  7. "Babcock's Devonport Yard Begins Refit of HMS Somerset". Shipbuilding Tribune. 3 May 2012. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  8. "Scotland set to host Exercise Joint Warrior". Royal Navy. 2 October 2013. Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  9. "Missing crew search suspended". The Orcadian. 4 January 2015. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  10. "£500m drugs bust 'UK's biggest ever'". BBC News. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  11. Dalli, Miriam (26 November 2015). "Suspension of Schengen borders to remain in place until end of year". Malta Today. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Spanish eyes on Somerset". Navy News. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  13. "HMS Somerset returns from Mediterranean action". Royal Navy. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  14. "HMS Somerset escorts Russian task group". Royal Navy. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  15. "Royal Navy escorts Russian submarine through English Channel". Royal Navy. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  16. Allison, George (18 January 2018). "HMS Somerset wins Fleet Frigate Effectiveness Trophy". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 6 April 2019.

External links