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HMS Lancaster

HMS Lancaster

HMS Lancaster was built by the Yarrow yard (today BAE Systems) on the Clyde as the fourth of 16 Type 23 frigates and joined the Fleet in Portsmouth back in 1992. Typically when on deployment, you’ll find her either in the Caribbean drug-busting or east of Suez ensuring freedom of the seas. On returning from those deployments she is greeted, wherever possible, by a Lancaster bomber of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which provides a fly past over Portsmouth Harbour.

nec aspera terrent – Difficulties be Damned

Ship's Motto
Royal Navy Frigate HMS Lancaster Makes £58m Caribbean Drugs Bust

All the ships in her class are named after Dukes, in her case, of course, the Duke of Lancaster – better known as Her Majesty the Queen. She is her sponsor and takes a keen interest in her deeds around the globe.

On the 18 December 2013 HMS Lancaster returned from a successful Atlantic Patrol Task (North) deployment to the Caribbean; a period which culminated with the Type 23 being awarded the Frigate Effectiveness Award.  

During her seven month deployment Lancaster seized narcotics worth £160 million, detained numerous smugglers and significantly disrupted the regular flow of drugs around the Caribbean Sea. Aside from counter narcotic operations, the ship visited all six of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories in the region providing reassurance and security during the core hurricane season. She also assisted local communities by repairing vital buildings such as schools, hospitals and homes.  

After a well-earned period of Christmas leave the ship’s company have commenced the regeneration process again, taking the ship back to sea in March following an extensive eight-week maintenance package.

Lancaster will operate primarily in UK waters this year ending with a period of Operational Sea Training just before Christmas, ensuring the ship is ready to deploy again in 2015 .


Peter Laughton

HMS Montrose, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Dulverton
Military experience

Peter Laughton joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman in 1992. After initial training at Britannia Royal Naval College, he undertook Fleet Training in the Hong Kong Patrol Vessel HMS Starling, and in the Destroyer HMS Southampton while deployed to the Adriatic during the Bosnian Crisis.

Thereafter he enjoyed a brief and rather unique broadening appointment as the First Lieutenant and Supply Officer to Naval Party 2010, based in the Falkland Islands, before reading an in-Service degree in Maritime Defence Management and Technology at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon.

Post graduation in July 1996, he returned to the Falkland Islands to undertake his first complement sea appointment as the Diving Officer in the Frigate HMS Montrose. Having then decided to sub-specialise, he successfully completed the Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officers’ Course in 1999. His next 2 appointments were in Sandown Class Minehunters, initially as the Operations Officer in HMS Cromer, then 2 years as the Executive Officer in HMS Grimsby. This latter appointment included a rapid deployment to the Northern Gulf in January 2003 for Operation TELIC, a period for which he was appointed MBE in the Operational Honours List in October 2003.

From 2003 to 2005 he served in the Northern Ireland Squadron in command of HMS Dulverton, a Hunt Class Minehunter. This period saw the Ship emerge from an extensive refit, undertake Operational Sea Training and conduct numerous counter-terrorism patrols in the Irish Sea. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 2004, and qualifying as a Principal Warfare Officer (Above Water) in 2006, he joined the Destroyer HMS Edinburgh as the Gunnery Officer and then later as the Operations Officer. This appointment also included a Falkland Islands deployment as well as 7 months deployed to the Gulf and Far East as part of the ORION 08 Maritime Strike Task Group.

In 2008, he joined the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood and was employed on the Middle East Operations Team, and later as the Military Advisor to the Assistant Chief of Staff within the Current Operations Division. Thereafter he enjoyed a short spell in Fleet Commitments as the Surface Scheduler for Frigates and Destroyers, before joining HMS Montrose as the Executive Officer in early 2011. Selected for promotion to Commander in April 2011, he enjoyed a fifth deployment to the Falkland Islands before attending the Advanced Command and Staff Course at Shrivenham, where he gained an MA in Defence Studies.

Commander Laughton assumed command of HMS Lancaster in November 2013.




HMS Lancaster sails to Dover and supports HMS Cavalier 70th Anniversary
02 April 2014

HMS Lancaster will visit Kent this weekend (April 4-8) with...

Merlin Mk 2 tested to the max
17 March 2014

A Merlin Mk 2 has set down on the deck...

Royal Navy helps to defend Romsey from floods
17 February 2014

More than 300 Royal Navy sailors have been building up...

Drug-Busting HMS Lancaster returns to Portsmouth
Drug-Busting HMS Lancaster returns to Portsmouth
18 December 2013

Portsmouth-based warship HMS Lancaster returned home to the cheers of...


Maritime security - On Patrol


British ships and units are committed to operations around the world. Operations focus on maritime security, reassurance and wider regional engagement to build regional maritime capability.


Weapons System

Type 23 Weapons System
type 23
  • 4.5Mk8 Gun
    medium calibre weapon system
    Mk8 4.5 Gun

    If you're looking for punch and firepower, then the 4.5in main gun, found on the forecastle of all the Royal Navy's destroyer's frigates and destroyers, is the most obvious provider. Even in an age of missiles, there's still a need for a weapon to pulverise enemy positions and demoralise the foe - and the 4.5in gun has done so in the Falklands and Iraq. The gun can fire up to two dozen high explosive shells weighing more than 40kg (80lbs) at targets more than a dozen miles away - and nearly 18 miles if special extended-range shells are used. In various forms, the 4.5in has been the Navy's standard medium gun since before World War 2, embodied today by the Mk8 which has been in service since the early 1970s. There are two types of Mk8 used by the Fleet. The older Mod 0 (with its curved turret), which is gradually being replaced, and the angular Mod 1 (nicknamed Kryten after the robot on the sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf) which is harder for enemy radar to pick up. The main purpose of the gun is Naval Gunfire Support – artillery bombardment of shore targets. In this role the gun is capable of firing the equivalent of a six-gun shore battery. The Mk8 can also be used effectively against surface targets at sea.

  • Harpoon
    Anti-ship missile System

    Harpoon is the long-range lance of the Type 23 frigate, capable of destroying enemy ships far beyond the horizon. Fitted to all Type 23 Frigates, the Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) Harpoon is a sophisticated anti-ship missile capable of striking at targets more than 80 miles away. Harpoon uses a combination of inertial guidance and active radar homing to attack its prey. Cruising at Mach 0.9 and carrying a large high explosive warhead it is powered by a lightweight turbojet, but is accelerated at launch by a booster rocket.

  • Helicopter
    Airbourne weapons System

    The Merlin Mk1 have been in service with the Fleet Air Arm since the late 1990s and, after thorough testing and evaluation, the helicopters have been on the front line since 2000. Our job is to find – and if necessary destroy – enemy submarines using our state-of-the-art sonar bouys which we drop into the ocean and Sting Ray torpedoes. Beyond searching for submarines, we carry out traditional maritime helicopter duties: anti-piracy/drug-running patrols, surveillance and reconnaissance, search and rescue, and passenger and load transfers

  • Sea Wolf
    Surface to Air Missile system
    Sea wolf

    Seawolf is the shield of Britain’s frigate fleet against air attack. Defending Britain's frigate fleet against air attack, the Seawolf missile has been in service for more than 30 years and has proven itself in action in the Falklands. Unlike Sea Viper and Sea Dart, Seawolf is intended to defend an individual ship rather than a task group, engaging aircraft or sea-skimming missiles. It is fired either from a vertical silo on Type 23 frigates, and guided on to its target courtesy of a tracking system on the ship. The original Seawolf had a very limited range of just six miles, but the frigate fleet is in the middle of receiving the latest, more potent version of the missile system. It means that Seawolf can track – and destroy – a target the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound well beyond the limit of the original missile. If the system was placed in the middle of London, it could track its target over the M25 and knock it out of the sky over the North Circular - and the whole action would last under 20 seconds. Each Type 23 frigate carries out at least two Seawolf firings on ranges off the UK coast before each deployment.

  • DLH Decoy Launch System
    active decoy system

    The DLH system is carried by the Navy's frigates and is designed to lure attacking anti-ship missiles away from the unit.

  • Torpedo
    Magazine torpedo launch System (MTLS)

    Dropped by Lynx and Merlin helicopters, and launched from the MTLS, Sting Ray is a small lightweight torpedo designed to destroy enemy submarines. It weighs seven times less than torpedoes fired by submarines, racing through the water at more than 50mph at targets half a dozen miles away, delivering a 100lb explosive charge powerful enough to punch through the double hulls of modern submarines. Once Sting Ray is fired it uses the information provided initially by the helicopter and gathers fresh intelligence on its target using its sonar and onboard software which is designed not to be fooled by the enemy submarine’s decoys.

  • Towed Array
    Sub Surface detection system
    towed array

  • 30mm Gun
    Medium Calibre gun system
    30mm Gun















Top Speed


Range (Nautical)


Launch Date


Commissioned date


Ship's Emblem

RedLancastrian Rose





  • The First Lancaster

    The first Lancaster was built at the end of the 17th Century and served for just short of 80 years, taking part in the siege of Louisburg in Canada. Originally an 80-gun third rate, she was rebuilt extensively over her lengthy career, finally being broken up in 1773.

  • Battle Honours

    Louisburg 1758

  • The Second Lancaster

    Lancaster No.2 was originally a merchant ship built for the East India Company, but was pressed into service by the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary War. She saw action immediately, taking part in the decisive victory at Camperdown in 1797 and, a decade later, half a world away in the River Plate against France’s ally Spain. Battle Honours-Camperdown 1797

  • Battle Honours

    Buenos Aires 1807

  • The Third Lancaster

    The third Lancaster never saw combat despite a 40-year career during the era of Pax Britannica.

  • The Fourth Lancaster

    We’re into the age of steam with the fourth Lancaster, an Monmouth-class armoured cruiser built at the turn of the 20th Century which served throughout World War 1 in the Mediterranean. She was sold for scrap in 1920.

  • The Fifth Lancaster

    The fifth Lancaster started life under the Stars and Stripes, but was transferred to the Royal Navy with 49 other aged US warships in 1940 as part of the Lend-Lease agreement. Formerly USS Philip, Lancaster was used as a minelayer escort in the UK-Iceland-Faeroes gap, interspersed with Atlantic and North Russian convoy duties.

  • Battle Honours

    Atlantic 1941

  • Battle Honours

    Arctic 1942

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