Her Majesty’s Frigate Amazon

By James Donahue

The Royal Navy’s frigate Amazon, launched in April, 1971, was the first of a new Type 21 Class of British warship designed to replace an aging fleet of aircraft carriers, destroyers and other vessels. There were seven more Amazon Class frigates to follow the Amazon for a fleet of eight vessels, all basically cast from the same mold.

The Amazon measured 384 feet in length, displaced 2,360 tons, was equipped with the latest armament including rocket launchers and torpedo tubes, and had the capability of reaching speeds of 32 knots. She carried a compliment of 177 sailors.

A decision to aluminum in much of the superstructure of the Type 21 Class frigates proved to be a concern, especially after the Amazon caught fire while in the Far East in 1977, and suffered extensive damage above deck. It seems that aluminum loses its strength under the heat of a fire. This became a concern of the Royal Navy, especially during the Falklands Island campaign against Argentina in 1982.

The Amazon was the only one of the eight Type 21 frigates that did not participate in the war with Argentina that year. She was stationed in the Persian Gulf at the time and was not sent to the Falklands. Two of those vessels, the Antelope and Ardent were sunk by bomb and rocket attacks during the campaign.

The other frigates, the Active, Ambuscade, Arrow, Alacrity and Avenger, returned home with signs of hull cracking after months of duty in the heavy South Atlantic seas. All of the vessels, including the Amazon, were refitted, with a steel plate welded down each side of the hulls. Modifications also were made to reduce hull noise. The Amazon also was fitted with four Exocet launchers.

The Amazon was decommissioned in the fall of 1993 and sold to Pakistan. She was renamed Babur. Pakistan now possesses the entire fleet of the Amazon Class frigates.

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