Warships of the Postwar Royal Navy

Most of the photos displayed here are courtesy of M.D. Thomas, and remain under his copyright.
Comments and corrections are welcome.


Type & Class

Modified CENTAUR class (HERMES)
Light Fleet Carriers


TIGER class


BATTLE class
BRISTOL class (Type 82)
COUNTY class
DARING class
Type 42


WHITBY and ROTHESAY class (Type 12)
BLACKWOOD class (Type 14)
LEANDER class (as built) (Improved Type 12)
AMAZON class (Type 21)
BROADSWORD class (Type 22)
DUKE class (Type 23)
SALISBURY class (Type 61)
TRIBAL class (Type 81)
British frigate designs of 1950 descended directly from the Loch-class frigates of World War 2. Needing long-range convoy escorts but with naval shipyards already saturated with war construction and repairs, during 1942–43 the Royal Navy designed the Loch class for “American methods.” The design parceled 80% of the ship into modules for prefabrication, largely by British structural engineering factories that were underutilized without their peacetime market for bridges and other exports. Since in general such firms could cut but not bend steel, curved plating was minimal. Small shipyards around the UK assembled the modules into frigates. Drawings numbered four times those for standard methods and construction costs were at least 25% higher but ship delivery was rapid and if necessary could have been much more rapid. Although many operational histories of the Atlantic campaign ignore frigates, David K. Brown has noted that the Loch-class frigates, armed with precision sonar to aim their new Squid mortars, were “the most deadly U-boat killers of the war.” This design also proved flexible. As several frigates neared completion they were armed instead with anti-aircraft guns to create the Bay-class frigates.

Forecasting that the new, fast Type XXI U-boats would flee underwater toward the waves to force a defending frigate to abandon pursuit lest slamming damage her hull, late in 1944 the RN began studies for a new escort with a thin, deep bow and 25-knot speed in high seas for a 10-knot advantage over a fast submarine. The studies considered a ship design to use the successful prefabrication method established for the Loch and Bay classes that could support either antiaircraft or antisubmarine armament.

Strategic concern about possible Russian aggression using captured German technology soon supplanted the conflict with the defeated Axis powers. Designs for the postwar frigates were connected with British strategic expectations of another long war similar to World War 2. Provisions for prefabrication, dispersed assembly under mobilization conditions, and alternative packages or armament characterized British frigate designs of the first postwar decade. Frigate construction and crew training would need to be rapid during mobilization. The Royal Navy designed two standard propulsion plants for mobilization production: Y-100 high-pressure steam and Admiralty standard range (ASR) diesels. The steam plant was matched to the twin-screw ASW frigate.

In March 1947 the designs for anti-aircraft and fighter-direction frigates were split from the original plan for a common-hull frigate class. The anti-aircraft and fighter-direction designs instead became a separate common-hull frigate class with ASR diesel propulsion and with alternative armament packages for the different missions. In 1950 these alternatively-armed common-hull diesel frigates became Types 41 and 61. The steam-powered twin-screw ASW frigate became Type 12.

© Mike Potter 2004.

OBERON class (SS)

Assault Ships



Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947-1982, Part I: The Western Powers. (1983). Conway Maritime Press Ltd., London.

Jane's Fighting Ships. (1968-69, 1973-74, and 1990-91 editions). Jane's Information Group, Surrey.

Jane's Warship Recognition Guide. (1996 and 1999 editions). Jane's Information Group / Harper Collins.

The Royal Navy Postwar website. ( ) by Jeremy Olver.

Alex's Royal Navy Page ( ) by Alex Walton (for cruiser information)

Fleet Air Arm Archive ( )

Various sections and captions are courtesy of Mike Potter.

Photos by M.D. Thomas and Sandy McClearn, as noted.
Other Resources at Haze Gray & Underway
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The Royal Navy Postwar - Royal Navy history, and ship histories.
Royal Navy Warship Photos - lots of rare RN photos taken over the last century.
Fleet Air Arm Archive - RN carriers and aircraft information.

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This section of the HG&UW site created and maintained by Sandy McClearn .
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All Photos Copyright M.D. Thomas, Unless Noted Otherwise.
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