17th February 1977
HMS Guernsey launched in Aberdeen
The Royal Navy has had four ships called HMS Guernsey, all named after the island. The one we’re interested in was the last of the bunch, built by Hall, Russell and Company in Aberdeen and launched on 17 February 1977.
That same year, Hall, Russell and Company became part of the British Shipbuilder’s Corporation. It was the company that, in 1955, launched the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior (under the name MV Sir William Hardy).
An Island Class vessel
HMS Guernsey was 59m long and 11m wide, with a draft of 4.3m. She displaced 1,000 tons when empty and had a top speed of 16 knots. That equates to 30km/h or 19mph. Her range, between refuelling, was 12,500 miles, or 20,000km, at 11 knots (20km/h or 12.5mph).
These specs made her an “Island Class” ship. Such vessels patrolled the Atlantic, securing British fishing rights and the country’s natural gas and oil fields. The Royal Navy commissioned them in the wake of the Cod Wars of 1958 to 1976. These were a series of disputes over fishing rights between Iceland and the United Kingdom. Iceland threatened to withdraw from Nato, as a result, which would have hampered the alliance’s effectiveness. It would no longer have been ablt to track submarines between the UK, Iceland and Greenland. The UK, not wanting this to occur, finally backed off. Iceland had won, and claimed extensive exclusive fishing areas.
Nine Island Class ships were built in total, with Jersey and Alderney also having ships named in their honour. The rest of the line-up was Jura, Westra, Anglesey, Shetland, Orkney and Lindisfarne.
HMS Guernsey’s second life
When the Royal Navy no longer had any use for HMS Guernsey, it sold her to Bangladesh, along with HMS Alderney, Jersey and three others. The sale completed on 29 January 2004, and she was renamed BNS Sangu. She went into service under that name on 3 October the same year, with a crew of around 100.
HMS Alderney and HMS Jersey are now called BNS Karatoa and BNS Ruhul Amin.
Other ships called HMS Guernsey
The name HMS Guernsey has been popular within the Royal Navy. It launched ships under that name in 1654, 1696, 1758 and 1977. The first was a 22-gun ship originally launched under the name HMS Basing. The second was a 48-gun ship. The third, a 32-gun ship, launched as Aeolus and was renamed Guernsey in 1800. The fourth is the ship discussed here.
Two other ships would have carried the name HMS Guernsey had they been built, in 1861 and 1944 respectively.
Image credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Furey