ESPERANCE CLASS FRIGATE
In the early 1960s, the RWN drew up requirements for a new class of frigate, preferably equipped with recently emerging guided missiles. By 1963, it had been decided to purchase 6 of the new Brooke-class frigates under construction for the US Navy. However, these plans were cancelled the following year in an act of protest to US pressure to enter the Vietnam War, and new plans were drawn up to procure a new class of frigate. This was to be based on a lengthened version of the Type 12M hull, with construction to be split between the UK and Westralia; the basic hull in Britain and the new superstructure, and fitment of systems and weapons, in Westralian shipyards. One of the most prominent alterations was the new split-funnel, which started from a single base before splitting into a y-shape. Despite the cancellation of the purchase of US ships, the new class of frigate was to be fitted with the Tartar missile and its control system, and studies were undertaken to ascertain with the Mark 42 5" gun could be installed in place of the British Mark VI 4.5" mount (though the Mark 42 was ultimately found to be too heavy), delivering a similar capability to the Brooke-class design. Construction began in 1966, and the first ship, Esperance
was launched in 1968 and commissioned late the following year.
Displacement: 3040 tons
Speed: 27 kts
Range: 5000nm at 15kts
Armament: Mark 6 4.5", 2 x 40mm L60, 2 x 20mm Oerlikon, 2 x M2 .50BMG, Mk 22 GMLS firing RIM-24B/C, Ikara, Mk 32 Torpedo Tubes firing Mk 46
Systems: MRS3 Gun Director, SPS-52, SPS-10, SPG-51, Type 162, 170 and 177 sonar
Aviation: Single Westland Wasp helicopter in general-purpose/anti-submarine role
The first significant upgrade to the Esperance
class came in 1984, influenced by lessons learned from participation in the Falklands War. The class began to receive the capability to fire both SM-1 and Harpoon from the Mk 22 launcher, and the Mark 6 gun was replaced by a Mk 45 Mod 1 5" system. Further improvements were made to communications, and the now vintage SPS-10 radar was replaced with SPS-67.
Armament refit: Mk 45 Mod 1 127mm, Mk 22 firing SM-1 and Harpoon, 2 x M2 shifted to bridge-wings
Systems refit: SPQ-9 and SPG-60 as part of Mk 86 GFCS, SPS-55, SPS-67
Aviation: Single Westland Lynx
Another, more minor refit was carried out in 1989, removing Ikara and adding Phalanx CIWS and GAM-B01 in place of the old Oerlikons
The classes final and most significant refit came in 1996, service life being extended due to delays in acquisition of the replacement Broome class. This brought in completely new systems, most notably SMART S, SPG-49, and Mk 41 VLS firing RIM-7M, as well as RHIBs replacing the ships boats, and diesels replaced the steam turbines that had powered the vessels for the past quarter of a century.
Displacement: 3400 tons
Range: 6000nm at 15kts
Armament refit: 16 x Mk 41 VLS cells firing RIM-7M, RGM-84 Harpoon in Mk 141 cannisters, Phalanx CIWS upgraded to Block 1A
Systems refit: SMART S, SPG-49, CEROS 200, Type 2050 sonar, Type 2031 VDS