HMS Boxer / HMS Brave to be blown apart

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Paraphrasing from "The Sun", 1st August 2002 edition:

Two Royal Navy frigates, HMS Boxer (launched 1983) and HMS Brave (1985) are to be towed into the Atlantic next year and blown apart by missiles and torpedoes in target practice.

The two, 4600 tons and £200m each, were laid off in 1997 due to defence cuts. They were originally built to hunt down submarines during the Cold War.

The Navy has been trying to sell them and Chile was the only country ready to buy them but Chile pulled out when dictator General Pinochet was arrested in London on a Spanish warrant in 1998. (Still can't believe they let him go).

Warship World magazine editor Mike Critchley: "It was scandalous these frigates were discarded halfway through their useful life. The Navy has suffered at the hands of the politicians, who have embarked on a dangerous exercise of disposing of ships long before their replacements are built - and some are not being replaced. The defence of the realm is all about paying our national defence insurance policy, just as we do at home with our fire insurance."

Navy Commodore Richard Leaman: "We have 32 destroyers and frigates which are exactly what are needed to meet our commitments as laid down by the Government. Boxer and Brave were built for hunting submarines in the Cold War - but all destroyers and frigates now carry anti-sub helicopters so there is no longer any need for specialist frigates. Using the ships to test missiles and torpedoes provides invaluable experience. It is also a good way of testing the effectiveness of weapons."

The Sun's comment: "...but British troops are saddled with some ageing and unworkable gear that puts us to shame...", "...whatever the cost, our men must be given the tools to do the job. It is bizarre that while the Army goes short, the Navy has too many ships. Using two perfectly good frigates for target practice seems a shocking waste. Why not turn them into a tourist attraction and make money, like HMS Belfast does on the Thames? The cash could help out the Army."

I don't know what to make of it, except to say that blasting the s*** out of £400m worth of technology for jollies is a fair bit disgusting. Any ideas for any other uses?


I do know there used to be a rule of thumb that after 8 years ( yes, 8 !!! ) a ship was approaching obsolescence, and after 16 years she was obsolete, and would be placed in reserve. Eight years after that she would be out of date and so would be scrapped.

Ships are expensive to keep in reserve for a start. Boxer and Brave are type 22s designed to hunt soviet suubmarines in the North Atlantic and shoot down Soviet bombers. This mission is now obsolete.

Their software and hardware would be well out of date, think mid-80s computers, and would need a lot of money to replce - not to mention perhaps new power supply systems.

They are likewise designed to operate the Lynx helicopter - and that is being replaced as we speak.

So, with both their mission and mush of their equipment out of date, why keep them. By expending them in tests the RN would gain much insight into both the effectiveness of its anti-shipping sytems and the ability of its ships to withstand the impact of such systems.

Min you, Mike Critchley would know that, and he may have a point. It is possible that these two ships should not have been built in the first place, but if you think back to 1985, that the Soviets would collapse was unthinkable. These ships became out-dated as soon as that happened - as often happens with warship design you build a nice spanky ship, and some sod comes along and blows the entire raison-d'etre out the water

Warmest regards
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