Cutlass class

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In 1952 with the demise of the Cruiser-Destroyer concept armed with three 5in/L70 guns the demand for a modern destroyer to replace some of the older types of prewar destroyers still in service remained. The Korean War rearmament programme was in full swing and the Admiralty decided to look into a modern destroyer. The design used several elements of the Cruiser-Destroyer concept, namely the 5in/L70 gun successfully co-developed with the USN, fixed torpedo tubes and the steam-gas turbine YARD Y.102 powerplant. By 1954 as the design was nearing design approval the guided-missile destroyer became the main focus and the number of hulls was curtailed at just four ships but the desire to have a modern design capable of anti-aircraft escort with good surface firepower to deal with Soviet cruisers and destroyers saw attempts to cancel the class rejected.

Hood Cutlass 1958.png HMS Cutlass as completed, 1958

Four ships were laid down, HMS Cutlass and Claymore completed in the late 1950s to the planned design with three gun mounts. Given the problems with the Sea Slug programme which had delayed the following County Class destroyers the class offered a powerful and modern destroyer, offering the heaviest destroyer gun armament then afloat.

Hood Carronade 1960.png HMS Carronade at completion, 1960

The Admiralty decided to alter the second pair with the new 'Orange Nell' SAM. The missile was designed to intercept supersonic missiles. It had a max range of 5.7 miles and a minimum range of 1.1 miles. It could reach Mach 1.2 speed and had a 'warmed-up' reaction time of 10 seconds from detection to launch. The missile had four booster rockets. It was guided by an S-band volume scanning TIR and a Q-band illuminator. It could be looked on before launch or acquire after launch. The missile had a 100lb HE-frag or continuous rod warhead. The twin-rail launcher was fed by a magazine consisting of two concentric rings totalling 40 missiles. HMS Carronade and Culverin were converted on the stocks and completed after a 9 months delay owing to problems with the Orange Nell programme. Both ships commissioned in 1960.

Hood Claymore 1966.png HMS Claymore, 1966

HMS Cutlass and Claymore on return from the Far East following the Confrontation with Indonesia were refitted in the mid-1960s with Sea Cat and Type 965 radar to enhance their anti-aircraft capabilities. They maintained their escort role with the carrier fleet as close-in escorts. Increasingly however they seemed outdated with their heavy gun armament and heavy torpedo armament and plans were drawn up for their conversion into ASW escorts but funding problems continually delayed this work until 1968/69 when both were taken in hand to receive a hangar and helipad replacing X mount and Sea Cat 2 supersonic SAMs but their fire-control and sonar equipment was left largely unchanged.

Hood Claymore 1979.png HMS Claymore, 1979

HMS Cutlass was often seen abroad despite her lack of flag facilities but was decommissioned in 1979 during defence cutbacks. Placed up for sale, a transfer to Chile falling through in 1981 and she was broken up in 1983. HMS Claymore was mooted for retirement in 1981 but was brought back into commission for the Falklands War where her guns were put to good use for shore bombardment. On her return to Britain she was decommissioned and after a spell as a training ship was sold to the breakers in 1987.

Hood Carronade 1977.png HMS Carronade, 1977

During the 1960s and 1970s HMS Carronade and Culverin were kept updated with newer weapons, receiving modern anti-submarine torpedoes and supersonic Sea Cat 2 SAMs to bolster their aging Orange Nell system which was obsolescent by 1970. It proved impossible to consider fitting the new Sea Dart and so only minor refit work was carried out. At one point it was suggested to replace the system with another two Sea Cat 2 launchers as a poor mans guided-missile destroyer but this was never done. When the Type 80 frigates with Orange Nell were rearmed in 1976 the spares released kept the two destroyers going a little longer but missile stocks dwindled and in 1978 both were paid off. Both were broken up during the 1980s.

  • HMS Cutlass D98 June 1958
  • HMS Claymore D99 September 1958
  • HMS Carronade D100 March 1960
  • HMS Culverin D101 June 1960


  • Length: 486ft 6in (oa), 470ft (wl)
  • Beam: 50ft
  • Draught: 16ft


  • 5,250 tons (full load)


  • 60,000shp YARD.102 COSAG
  • 30kts on both
  • Endurance 3,500nm at 20kts

Armament (Cutlass and Claymore)

  • 3x2 5in L70 (fire-control by 2x MRS-3)
  • 2x1 40mm Bofors L/70 (fire-control by 2x CRBF) [replaced in 1964-66 by 2x4 Sea Cat SAM launchers (36 missiles) with GWS-21 fire-control, replaced by 1972 with Sea Cat 2 with GWS-22 fire-control)
  • [From 1972 2x1 20mm Oerlikon]
  • 8x 21in torpedo tubes for Fancy anti-ship and Pentane anti-sub torpedoes (24x torps) [replaced by 2x3 12.75in torpedo tubes for 24x Mk.44 anti-sub torpedoes]
  • 1x Mortar Mk.10 Limbo (30x depth-bombs)
  • 2x Corvus flare-chaff launchers
  • [From 1972 1x Westland Wasp HAS.1 helicopter in a hangar aft]

Armament (Carronade and Culverin)

  • 2x2 5in L70 (fire-control by 1x MRS-3)
  • 1x2 Orange Nell SAM launcher (40x missiles) (fire-control by one Q-band illuminator)
  • [from 1969 2x4 Sea Cat 2 SAM launchers (24x missiles) with GWS-22 fire-control)
  • 8x 21in torpedo tubes for Fancy anti-ship and Pentane anti-sub torpedoes (24x torps) [removed in 1969]
  • 1x Mortar Mk.10 Limbo (30x depth-bombs)
  • 2x Corvus flare-chaff launchers

Radars & Sonars

One Type 960 air search (by 1965 Type 965 by 1970 Type 965M), one Type 293Q TIR (by 1970 Type 992Q), one Type 277Q surface search/height-finder (by 1965 Type 978), one Type 978 navigation (by 1974 Type 1006) navigation, Type 170 and Type 174 sonars, Type 667/668 'Cooky' jammers.