HMS Gurkha (F122)


HMS Gurkha (F122) during the mid-1960s
Gurkha circa. 1964-1966
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Gurkha
Builder: John I. Thornycroft & Company
Laid down: 3 November 1958
Launched: 11 July 1960
Commissioned: 13 February 1963
Decommissioned: 30 March 1984
Identification: Pennant number F122
  • Ayo Gurkhali
  • ("The Gurkhas are here!")
Fate: Sold to Indonesia 1984
Name: KRI Wilhelmus Zakarias Yohannes
Acquired: 1984
Decommissioned: 1999
Identification: 332
Status: Awaiting disposal
General characteristics
Class and type: Tribal-class frigate
  • 2,300 long tons (2,300 t) standard
  • 2,700 long tons (2,700 t) full load
  • 360 ft 0 in (109.73 m) oa
  • 350 ft 0 in (106.68 m) pp
Beam: 42 ft 3 in (12.88 m)
  • 13 ft 3 in (4.04 m)
  • 17 ft 6 in (5.33 m) (propellers)
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) (COSAG)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 253
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Radar type 965 air-search
  • Radar type 993 low-angle search
  • Radar type 978 navigation
  • Radar type 903 gunnery fire-control
  • Radar type 262 GWS-21 fire-control
  • Sonar type 177 search
  • Sonar type 170 attack
  • Sonar type 162 bottom profiling
  • Ashanti and Gurkha;
  • Sonar type 199 variable-depth
Aircraft carried: 1 × Westland Wasp helicopter
Service record
Operations: Third Cod War

HMS Gurkha was a Tribal-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She was named after an ethnic group located in Nepal, and who continue to serve in the British Army.


The Tribal-, or Type 81-class, frigates were developed in the mid-1950s as a General Purpose frigate, capable of use in both anti-submarine and anti-aircraft duties in a full scale war, while serving for Cold War policing duties in peace-time,[1][2] in particular to replace the old Loch-class frigates serving in the Persian Gulf.[3]

HMS Gurkha-F122 1.jpg

The Tribals were 360 ft 0 in (109.73 m) long overall and 350 ft 0 in (106.68 m) [[length between perpendiculars|between perpendiculars, with a beam of 42 ft 3 in (12.88 m).[3][4][5] The ship's hull had a draught of 13 ft 5 12 in (4.10 m),[6] with the propeller increasing overall draught to 17 ft 6 in (5.33 m).[5] Displacement was 2,300 long tons (2,300 t) standard and 2,500 long tons (2,500 t) full load.[3][5] Propulsion was by a single-shaft Combined steam and gas (COSAG) arrangement, effectively half of the powerplant of the County-class destroyers. A single Babcock & Wilcox boiler fed steam at 550 psi (3,800 kPa) and 850 °F (454 °C; 728 K) to a geared steam turbine rated at 12,500 shp (9,300 kW), which could be supplemented by a Metrovick G-6 gas turbine rated at 7,500 shp (5,600 kW) to reach top speed, with the gas turbine also allowing the ship to get underway quickly in an emergency, without having to wait to raise steam.[3][1] Speed was about 27–28 kn (31–32 mph; 50–52 km/h) using both steam and gas turbine power,[3][5] and 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h) on steam power alone.[2]

The ships were fitted with two QF 4.5-in (113 mm) Mark 5 guns, salvaged from scrapped Second World War destroyers, mounted fore and aft. It was intended to fit two Seacat anti-aircraft missile launchers, but these were not ready in time, and Gurkha completed with two 40 mm Bofors guns instead, with Seacat replacing the Bofors guns on refit. For anti-submarine and anti-ship duties, a hangar and flight deck for a single Westland Wasp helicopter was fitted, while a Limbo anti-submarine mortar provided close-in anti-submarine armament.[3][7] Gurkha was fitted with a large Type 965 long range air search radar on a lattice foremast, with a Type 993 short range air/surface target indicating radar and Type 978 navigation radar also fitted. An MRS3 fire control system was carried to direct the 4.5-inch guns.[8] The ship had a sonar suite of Type 177 medium range search sonar, Type 162 bottom search and Type 170 attack sonar.[4] Type 199 Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) was fitted in 1969.[9] The ship had a crew of 253 officers and other ranks.[3][5]

Royal Navy service

Gurkha was ordered under the 1955–56 Naval Estimates from John I. Thornycroft & Company, of Woolston, Hampshire,[5][3] at a cost of £4,865,000[10] She was laid down on 3 November 1958, was launched on 11 July 1960 and commissioned on 13 February 1963,[3] joining the 9th Frigate Squadron in the Middle East.[11] In 1965 she was present at Portsmouth Navy Days,[12] and again deployed to the Middle East with the 9th Frigate Squadron.[11] On 14 January 1967 she commenced her third commission, leaving British waters on 24 July. She served on the Beira Patrol and during the withdrawal of British forces from Aden before carrying out patrol operations in the Persian Gulf, returning to Rosyth on 14 May 1968.[11][13][14]

In 1975, Gurkha deployed to the West Indies, where the ship performed various duties.[citation needed] In 1976, Gurkha supported Royal Navy efforts against Iceland during the Third Cod War. She sustained superficial damage on 7 May when the patrol ship Óðinn attempted to force the ship towards the British trawler Ross Ramilles, during which Óðinn collided with Gurkha.[15] In that collision Óðinn's port propeller was damaged by Gurkha's starboard stabiliser, forcing her to return to port for repairs.

Gurkha was present at the 1977 Spithead Fleet Review, held in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. At this time she was part of the 1st Frigate Squadron.[16]

Gurkha was reduced to the reserve in 1980, being placed in the Standby Squadron. Although she had been put on the disposal list,[17] Gurkha was removed from the reserve during the Falklands War and prepared for active service,[18] recommissioning on 24 July.[19] Gurkha remained in home waters, fulfilling duties in the absence of ships that were operating in the South Atlantic.

In October 1982, Gurkha became Gibraltar Guardship,[20] following this was a deployment to the Caribbean late in 1982 on "Carib Train" returning to the uk in early 1983. during this later part of her life she had a section of Gurkhas onboard instead of the usuall Royal Marine contingent.[citation needed]

Indonesian Navy service

After being decommissioned in 1984, Gurkha was sold to Indonesia. She was renamed Wilhelmus Zakarias Yohannes for the national hero Wilhelmus Zakaria Johannes[21] after a radiologist and specialist in X-ray technology. The frigate was withdrawn from service in 1999 and remains laid up at Surabaya Naval Base to await scrapping.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Friedman 2008, p. 272
  2. ^ a b Marriott 1983, p. 70
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gardiner & Chumbley 1995, p. 518
  4. ^ a b Marriott 1983, p. 72
  5. ^ a b c d e f Blackman 1971, p. 356
  6. ^ Friedman 2008, p. 322
  7. ^ Marriott 1983, pp. 70, 72
  8. ^ Marriott 1983, pp. 72–73
  9. ^ Marriott 1983, p. 73
  10. ^ "Missile Destroyer Cost £15m". The Times (55970): Col B, p. 6. 26 March 1964.
  11. ^ a b c Critchley 1992, p. 109
  12. ^ Programme, Navy Days Portsmouth, 28th-30th August 1965, p14.
  13. ^ "Gurkha due home from East of Suez". Navy News. May 1968. p. 7. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Worst night so far in cod war". The Times (59699): Col C, p. 1. 8 May 1976.
  16. ^ Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  17. ^ Hansard (26 April 1982), Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  18. ^ Hansard (27 May 1982), Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Newcastle, Tribals in Fast Turn" (PDF). Navy News. August 1982. p. 48. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Ships of the Royal Navy: Gurkha, Tartae, Zulu: Return of the Natives" (PDF). Navy News. December 1982. p. 5. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  21. ^ Colledge, J. J. & Warlow, Ben (2010), p. 171


  • Blackman, Raymond V. B., ed. (1971). Jane's Fighting Ships 1971–72. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd. ISBN 0-354-00096-9.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Critchley, Mike (1992). British Warships Since 1945: Part 5: Frigates. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Press. ISBN 0-907771-13-0.
  • Friedman, Norman (2008). British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War and After. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-015-4.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen, eds. (1995). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Marriott, Leo (1983). Royal Navy Frigates 1945-1983. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1322-5.

External links