HMS Cardiff (D108)

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HMS CARDIFF (D108) was a Type 42 destroyer that served in the Royal Navy from 1979 to 2005.

HMS CARDIFF (D108) was the third ship of the Royal Navy to be named in honour of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff.

Construction was started by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and completed at Swan Hunter’s Hawthorn Leslie yard in Hebburn. HMS CARDIFF (D108) was launched on 22 February 1974.

During her career, HMS CARDIFF (D108) served in the Falklands War, where she shot down the last Argentine aircraft of the conflict and accepted the surrender of a 700-strong garrison in the settlement of Port Howard. During the 1991 Gulf War, her Lynx helicopter sank two Iraqi minesweepers. HMS CARDIFF (D108) later participated in the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq as part of the Royal Navy’s constant Armilla patrol; HMS CARDIFF (D108) thwarted attempts to smuggle oil out of the country, but was not involved in the actual invasion.

HMS CARDIFF (D108) was decommissioned in July 2005, having earned two battle honours for service in the Falklands and Gulf wars. HMS CARDIFF (D108) was sent to Turkey for scrapping despite calls by former servicemen for her to be preserved as a museum ship and local tourist attraction in Cardiff.

HMS CARDIFF (D108) was one of the first Type 42 destroyers built. She cost over £30 million, which was double her original quoted price. Her keel was laid down on 6 November 1972, at Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd in Cumbria. The build was interrupted by a labour shortage at Vickers. To solve this problem, HMS CARDIFF (D108) was towed to Swan Hunter in Tyne and Wear and completed there.

HMS CARDIFF (D108) was designed as anti-aircraft vessels primarily equipped with the Sea Dart, a surface-to-air missile system capable of hitting targets up to 56 kilometres (30 nmi) away. HMS CARDIFF’s secondary weapon system was a 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun, capable of firing 21-kilogram (46 lb) shells to a range of 22 kilometres (12 nmi). After the Falklands War, in which two Type 42s were sunk by enemy aircraft, the entire class was equipped with the Phalanx close-in weapon system, a Gatling cannon that fires 3,000 rounds per minute and is designed to shoot down anti-ship missiles.

HMS CARDIFF (D108) was launched on 22 February 1974 by Lady Caroline Gilmore.

Following fitting-out and sea trials, HMS CARDIFF (D108) was commissioned on 24 September 1979 under command of Captain Barry Wilson. During the next 12 months of active service she steamed over 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) and undertook various duties. HMS CARDIFF (D108) returned to her place of construction, Tyne and Wear, so that the Swan Hunter crew who fitted her out could exhibit the warship to their families. In the spirit of establishing a firm association, HMS CARDIFF (D108) visited her namesake city and welcomed more than 7,000 people on board. Her crew raised over £1,000 for local charities by participating in sponsored bicycle rides and dinghy rows from Portsmouth and Newcastle upon Tyne. BBC Radio Wales based an entire programme on her and she appeared on the BBC and ITV national television channels.

In November 1979, HMS CARDIFF (D108) coordinated the search for survivors of the MV POOL FISHER, which sank off the Isle of Wight with the loss of most of her crew.

In 1980, HMS CARDIFF (D108) attended the annual Navy Days event at Portsmouth and Portland Harbour, receiving a total of 17,300 visitors. In October 1980, HMS CARDIFF (D108) ventured abroad for the first time on a visit to Ghent, Belgium. HMS CARDIFF (D108) followed this with a fortnight of Sea Dart exercises on a range off Aberporth, in South Wales. Whilst in the region, the destroyer attended celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of Cardiff’s city status.

Information complied by Thomas Joseph Simpson

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