Back again, with my largest post to-date. First I'll say that I've modified my previous Sovereign class images above to make the VLS more visible amidships. Based on the images of the Iver Huitfeldts, the Mk41 does come to the same height as the top of the missile-deck enclosure. So I added in a more visible Mk41 launcher to show them just peeking out over the edge, so it doesn't appear so void, and so it makes sense why there are guard rails located there.
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Anyway, I've been fooling around with a new cold-war era ship, and as a result I give you the Philip Francis Little
As the RNFN moved into the late 50's, and the demands of being a NATO naval force in the midst of the Cold War made greater demands on their limited, WWII vintage fleet; the Commodores of the fleet decided it was necessary to begin a new naval expansion program, and procure new vessels to provide a more robust naval force. Initially Newfoundland looked to ships like the Type 12M, or Rothesay
class, frigates of the RN, but found their design to be too expensive for the constrains of their naval program. However, a ship like the lower-end Type 14 frigates were too limited in capability, being little-more than lightly armed convoy escorts. The RNFN wanted a vessel that had a more capable presence, in the mind of the Type 12's, but with a more affordable and quantitative feel like the Type 14's.
The end result was the Philip Francis Little Class
frigate, or as it was known to naval planners and derisively-so in the RN, the "Type 26's" (14+12=26). Named for earlier Premiers of Colonial Newfoundland, and Prime Ministers of the Dominion, they were elegantly lined, if somewhat basic vessels. Intended to be able to tough it out in all parts of the North Atlantic, they were envisioned as serving as high-end convoy and fleet escorts, freeing up even more capable USN, RCN and RN ships for greater duties in the event of a Hot-War.
HMNFS Philip Francis Little, 1960
The Batch-1 vessels were armed with a relatively light armament, but with a focus on their ASW nature. Their primary weapons included two fixed Bidder ASW torpedoes, affixed at angles on the deck for forwarding firing to port and starboard, and a Limbo ASW mortar on the stern. Their main gun was an American system, a twin 3"/50 turret on the bow. The RNFN had adopted open 3" guns from surplus USN ships, and had used them on refitted WWII vintage ships in service with the RNFN, and decided to maintain the guns in service on their new class for the sake of commonality. Rounding out the weapons were four Bofors 40mm guns, in two single and one dual mounting.
While the ships had relatively modern machinery, it was decided to give them only a single screw, as they were still even in their most demanding work, only intended to serve as convoy or escort leaders. While it gave them a relatively healthy top speed of 25 knots, it made them somewhat un-maneuverable, a problem that would never really be corrected while they were in service.
HMNFS Robert Bond, 1962
After the first vessels were built, it was deemed that their AA armaments made them only moderately better than the Type 14's the RNFN had been opposed to purchasing, it was decided to make the second pair of ships in the class better armed. The aft dual Bofors launcher was removed, and its place, a quadruple SeaCat launcher was affixed. As well, an additional pair of Bidders were fitted on the stern to increase the torpedo armament. This, coupled with an updated radar suite, was meant to make these ships more capable than their Batch 1 sisters. Deemed a success, the modifications to this ships were gradually retrofitted to the first two vessels as well.
HMNFS Philip Francis Little, 1968
After almost a decade of service, it was again decided that the ships needed additional upgrades to make them more effective in their ASW roles. As a result, an extensive upgrade was undertaken that saw the aft deck completely renovated to accommodate a small helicopter landing area on the after-deck. The Limbo was removed, and the SeaCat was elevated to accommodate the addition of a space large enough to land a Westland Wasp of the RNFAF. While no hangar could be fitted on the relatively small vessels, the RNFN did design a unique mechanism for holding the helicopters to the deck, and placing a temporary housing over them to protect from the elements. While these "poor-man's" hangar's were found wanting, it did provide the fleet a limited capability to carry these helicopters on deployments that took them away from their normal land-based bases, if deployed outside a NATO fleet.
HMNFS Robert Bond, 1974
As the ships aged and started approaching their rapidly advancing use-by dates, the RNFN came up with additional methods to make the ships relevant while newer vessels came into service to supplement and replace them. One method was utilized that saw the Batch-2 vessels go through an upgrade scheme that removed the bow 3" turret, and replaced them with two forward-facing, boxed, Ikara ASW missile launchers. This, coupled with the removal of the Bidder tubes with more modern triple ASW torpedo launchers gave the ships a second-life as dedicated ASW ships. Unfortunately, by removing all but two 40mm guns, it did have the unintended consequence of making these vessels little more than beefier Type 14's.
HMNFS Philips Francis Little, 1982
The ships eventually got pulled out-of-service as they got older. Their small and constrained designs meant that the fleet could not justify and further upgrades as it would have required radical redesigns to the ships, which would have been far costlier than the new vessels that replaced them. The final fate of two of the vessels were was training vessels for the Royal Newfoundland Naval Academy, with one ship placed each on the East and West coasts. All but a basic armament of Bofors and torpedoes were removed, to allow for a lengthened helicopter deck. These ships would remain as such for another 10 years before being paid off and scrapped shortly after the end of the Cold War.
While a result of some flawed naval planning that insisted on ships that were "not" a too expensive or too cheap RN design, the end result was exactly what it was: a too expensive design with a too cheap product. However, despite their numerous design and operational limitations, they were still capable ships. Able to handle the rough seas with relatively good handling, if albeit in a slow and poorly turning way; they were well regarded by individual sailors of the fleet as a kind of "mut" or half-breed design. No one would ever call these ships beautiful or pure-breds, but like a good mut, they were faithful until the end.
HMNFS Philip Francis Little
HMNFS John Kent
HMNFS Robert Bond
HMNFS Robert Stanley Monroe
As always, any feedback is welcome.