Daring class destroyer (1949)

Daring class destroyer (1949)
The Australian Daring class destroyer HMAS Vampire on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum
Class overview
Name: Daring
Operators: Royal Navy (RN)
Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
Peruvian Navy (MGP)
Preceded by: Battle-class destroyer
Succeeded by: County-class destroyer (RN)
Perth-class destroyer (RAN)
Built: 1949-1959
In commission: 1952-2007
Planned: 16 (RN)
4 (RAN)
Completed: 8 (RN)
3 (RAN)
Cancelled: 8 (RN)
1 (RAN)
Lost: 1, Voyager
Preserved: 1, Vampire
General characteristics For RN vessels
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: Standard: 2,830 tons, Full load: 3,820 tons
Length: 390 ft (120 m)
Beam: 43 ft (13 m)
Draught: 12.75 ft (3.89 m)
Propulsion: 2 Foster Wheeler boilers 650 psi (4.5 MPa), 850 °F (454 °C), Parsons steam turbines (English Electric in RAN ships), 2 shafts, 54,000 shp (40 MW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,400 nautical miles (8,100 km; 5,100 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 297
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar Type 293Q target indication
Radar Type 291 air warning
Radar Type 274 navigation
Radar Type 275 fire control on director Mk.VI
Radar Type 262 fire control on director CRBF and STAAG Mk.II

6 x QF 4.5 inch /45 (113 mm) Mark V guns in 3 twin mountings UD Mark VI
4 x 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 2 twin mounts STAAG Mk.II
2 x 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 1 twin mount Mk.V
2 x pentad tubes for 21-inch (530 mm) torpedoes Mk.IX

1 x Squid A/S mortar

The Daring class was a class of eleven destroyers built for the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Constructed after World War II, and entering service during the 1950s, eight ships were constructed for the RN, and three ships for the RAN. Two of the RN destroyers were subsequently sold to and served in the Peruvian Navy (MGP). A further eight ships were planned for the RN but were cancelled before construction commenced, while a fourth RAN vessel was begun but was cancelled before launch and broken up on the slipway.

The Daring-class ships were both the largest and most heavily armed ships serving in Commonwealth navies to be classified as destroyers. They were also the last destroyers of the RN and RAN to possess guns as their main armament (instead of guided missiles), which saw use during the Indonesian Confrontation and the Vietnam War.

The Daring-class destroyers were in service in the RN and RAN from the 1950s to the 1980s. Following decommissioning, two RN Darings were sold to the MGP, which operated one ship until 1993 and the other until 2007. One ship of the class is preserved: HMAS Vampire as a museum ship at the Australian National Maritime Museum.



A line drawing of the Daring-class destroyer

The Darings were the largest destroyers then built at that time for the RN,[1] having a displacement of 3,820 tonnes, a length of 390 feet (120 m), a beam of 43 feet (13 m), and a draught of 12.75 feet (3.89 m).[2]

The Darings were the last conventional gun destroyers of the RN; armed with the QF 4.5 inch /45 (113 mm) Mark V gun in three double mounts UD Mk.VI (later renamed simply Mark N6). The main armament was controlled by a director Mark VI fitted with Radar Type 275 on the bridge and a director CRBF (close range blind fire) aft with Radar Type 262 providing local control for 'X' turret on aft arcs. Remote Power Control (RPC) was provided for the main armament.

Forward half of Vampire, showing the two forward turrets for the 4.5-inch Mark V guns, and a single 40 mm Bofors

They were designed to ship three twin 40 mm /60 Bofors mounts STAAG Mark II, but one was later replaced by the lighter and more reliable twin Mount Mark V. This meant that the Darings could engage two targets at long range and two at close range under fully automatic radar directed-control, an enormous improvement over their predecessors. Two of the Australian Darings were instead fitted with two twin and two single Bofors mounts. Radar Type 293 was carried on the foremast for target indication.

Like the earlier Weapon class, the Darings had their machinery arranged on the 'unit' principle, where boiler rooms and engine rooms alternated to increase survivability. The boilers utilised pressures and temperatures (650 psi, 850 °F) hitherto unheard of in the conservative Royal Navy, allowing great savings in weight and efficiency to be made. The wide spacing of the boilers resulted in widely-spaced funnels. The forward funnel was trunked up through the lattice foremast (referred to as a mack) with the after funnel a stump amidships. Neither was provided with a casing, resulting in a curious, rather unappealing appearance, although the utility of the funnels was considered by some to enhance the overall appearance. Attempts were made to improve the appearance by adding a streamline case to the funnel, but this was later removed. Of note was a new design of bridge, breaking with a lineage going back to the H-class destroyer of 1936. 3/8 inch armour plating was added to the turrets, the bridge and the fire control cable runs.



The Royal Navy ships were built in two groups, one with the traditional DC electrical system (Daring, Dainty, Defender and Delight) and the remaining ships with a modern AC system. They were known as the 2nd and 5th Destroyer Squadrons, respectively.

Two of the ships, Danae and Delight, were originally part of the Battle class, though only Delight (originally Ypres, then Disdain, before finally being renamed to Delight) was commissioned.

They were to have been of all-welded construction, but Daring, Decoy, and Diana were built with a composite of welding and riveting.


The Royal Australian Navy initially ordered four Daring-class destroyers, which were to be named after the ships of the "Scrap Iron Flotilla" of World War II. The ships were modified during construction: most changes were made to improve habitability, including the installation of air-conditioning.[3] The Darings were also the first all-welded ships to be constructed in Australia.[4]

The first Australian Daring was laid down in 1949.[4] By 1950, it was already apparent that the Australian Darings would not be completed on time, as the Australian dockyards were experiencing difficulty in keeping up with the construction schedule.[3] To compensate for this, the RAN unsuccessfully attempted to purchase two of the Darings under construction in the United Kingdom, and considered acquiring ships from the United States Navy despite the logistical difficulties in supplying and maintaining American vessels in a predominately British-designed fleet.[3] Only three ships were completed; Voyager, Vendetta, and Vampire were commissioned between 1957 and 1959.[4] By the time they were commissioned, the cost of each ship had increased from 2.6 million to A£7 million.[4]

Cancelled ships

Eight further Daring-class destroyers ordered for the Royal Navy were cancelled on 27 December 1945: Danae, Decoy, Delight, Demon, Dervish, Desire, Desperate. and Diana. Consequently, the ships of this class originally ordered as Disdain, Dogstar, Dragon and Druid were renamed as Delight, Defender, Decoy and Diana to perpetuate the names of the original "D"-class flotilla of the 1930s.

The fourth Australian Daring, to be named Waterhen was cancelled in 1954 as one of several cost-cutting measures to maintain a naval aviation force based around two aircraft carriers.[5]

Construction programme

Pennant [6] Name (a) Hull builder Ordered Laid down Launched Completed or
into service
Commissioned Estimated
building cost[7]
I05, later D119 Delight (ex-Disdain, ex-Ypres) (a) Fairfield.[8] 5 June 1943 [8] 5 September 1946 [8] 21 December 1950 [8] 9 October 1953 [8] 9 October 1953 [9]
I06 Danae (ex-Vimiera) (a) Cammell Laird.[8] 5 June 1943 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945 [8] - -
I15, later D05 Daring (a) Swan Hunter.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] 29 September 1945 [8] 10 August 1949 [8] 8 March 1952 [8] 8 March 1952 [9]
I35 Demon (a) Swan Hunter.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945.[8] - -
I52, later D108 Dainty (a) JS White.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] 17 December 1945 [8] 16 August 1950 [8] 26 February 1953 [8] 26 February 1953 [9]
I73 Dervish (a) JS White.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945.[8] -
I40 Decoy (a) Vickers, Newcastle-on-Tyne.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945.[8] -
I45 Delight (a) Vickers, Newcastle-on-Tyne.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945.[8] -
I81, later D35 Diamond (a) John Brown.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] 15 March 1949 [8] 14 June 1950 [8] 21 February 1952 [8] 21 February 1952 [9]
I87 Desperate (a) John Brown.[8] 24 January 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 27 December 1945.[8] -
I19 Desire (a) Hawthorne Leslie.[8] 16 February 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945.[8] -
I77 Diana (a) Hawthorne Leslie.[8] 16 February 1945 [8] - - Cancelled 13 December 1945.[8] -
I47, later D114 Defender (ex-Dogstar) (a) Stephen.[8] 16 February 1945 [8] 22 March 1949 [8] 27 July 1950 [8] 5 December 1952 [8] 5 December 1952 [9]
I56, later D106 Decoy (ex-Dragon) (a) Yarrow.[8] 16 February 1945 [8] 23 September 1946 [8] 29 March 1949 [8] 28 April 1953 [8] 28 April 1953 [9]
I26, later D126 Diana (ex-Druid) (a) Yarrow.[8] 16 February 1945 [8] 3 April 1947 [8] 8 May 1952 [8] 29 March 1954 [8] 29 March 1954 [9]
I94, later D154 Duchess (a) Thornycroft.[8] 29 March 1945 [8] 8 July 1948 [8] 9 April 1951 [8] 23 October 1952 [8] 23 October 1952 [9]
Australian Daring-class destroyers
D11 Vampire (a) Cockatoo Island.[8] 1 July 1952 [8] 27 October 1956 [8] 23 June 1959 [8] 23 June 1959 [9]
D08 Vendetta (a) Williamstown Dock Yard. 4 July 1949 [8] 3 May 1954 [8] 26 November 1958 [8] 26 November 1958 [9]
D04 Voyager (a) Cockatoo Island.[8] 10 October 1949 [8] 1 May 1952 [8] 12 February 1957 [8] 12 February 1957 [9]
- Waterhen (a) Williamstown Dock Yard.[8] December 1952 [8] - Cancelled 1954 [8] - -

British modifications

In 1958, the 'DC' group had their after torpedo tubes removed and replaced with a deckhouse providing additional accommodation facilities. This modification was made in the 'AC' ships in 1959-1960. At the same time as this, the 'AC' replaced the STAAG mounts with single mounts Mark 7 and had the director Mark VI replaced by the new director MRS-3 (medium range system) incorporating the Radar Type 903 for fire control. The Sea Cat missile launcher was fitted briefly to Decoy but it was later removed and never fitted to the rest of the Darings as had been intended.

Between 1962 and 1964, the 'DC' group had the STAAG mounts replaced by the Mark V also, with the final set of torpedo tubes being removed at the same time. This group also had the director MRS-3 replace the Mark VI.

Service and fate

The class saw service with the RN from the early 1950s to the early 1970s, and with the RAN from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, with Vampire in service as a training ship until 1986. Several of the ships were also involved in Cold War conflicts. Delight, Duchess, Vampire and Vendetta were involved in the Indonesian Confrontation. Vendetta was also involved in the Vietnam War; the only Australian-built warship to serve in the conflict.[10]

Only one ship of the class was lost. On the night of 10 February 1964, Voyager crossed the bows of the aircraft carrier Melbourne and was rammed and sunk with the loss of 81 RAN personnel and one civilian contractor.[11] Duchess was loaned to the RAN as a replacement for four years while replacements (two modified River class destroyer escorts) were constructed, but was then sold to the RAN.[12]

The British Darings received little modernisation, and were all decommissioned as obsolete during the early 1970s. Two of these, Diana and Decoy, were sold to the Peruvian Navy and renamed BAP Palacios and BAP Ferré respectively. These two ships were modernised, with Palacios serving until 1993, and Ferré decommissioning in 2007. The RAN ships were modernised in the early 1970s at a cost of A$20 million,[13] although modifications to Duchess were fewer than to her sister ships. Duchess and Vendetta remained in commission until the late 1970s, and Vampire was retained until 1986 as a training ship.

The Australian Darings were replaced with the Perth-class destroyers, an American-built derivative of the Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer.[14] The training role of the Darings was first supplemented, then replaced, by HMAS Jervis Bay.[13]

After decommissioning, Vampire became a museum ship at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney; the only ship of the class to be preserved.


A variety of models were produced during the lifetime of the Daring class ships which publicised them to a younger generation. In 1959 Triang Minic Ships produced a series of 1:1200 (one inch to 100 feet) metal models, carrying the names Daring, Diana, Dainty and Decoy: these toys were mass-produced in large numbers between 1959 and 1965, and remain sought after by collectors today. In 1961 the Airfix company produced an accurate HMS Daring plastic model kit to a scale of 1/600th (one inch to 50 feet) which depicted the multiple large gun turrets and the combined 'mast and stack' ("Mack") arrangement of the design. A highly accurate metal miniature is currently produced in small numbers by the German manufacturer 'Albatros', to the international scale of 1:1250.


  1. ^ Marriott, Leo, Royal Navy Destroyers Since 1945, p88 says: "The Daring class were the largest conventional destroyers built by the Royal Navy".
  2. ^ Blackman, Raymond, ed (1954). Jane's Fighting Ships 1954-55. p. [page needed]. OCLC 655824148. 
  3. ^ a b c Cooper, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 167
  4. ^ a b c d Cooper, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 168
  5. ^ Cooper, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 169
  6. ^ Norman Friedman's British Destroyers and Frigates (Chatham Publishing, 2006) ISBN 1-86176-137-6. p.330 gives all dates and pennant numbers for the Darings.
  7. ^ "Unit cost, i.e. excluding cost of certain items (e.g. aircraft, First Outfits)."
    Text from Defences Estimates
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz Moore, George, From Daring to Devonshire in Warship, 2005, pub Conways, 2005, ISBN 1-84486-003-05 page 115.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gardiner, Robert Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995, pub Conway Maritime Press, 1995, ISBN 0-85177-605-1 page 505.
  10. ^ Lind, The Royal Australian Navy - Historic Naval Events Year by Year, p. 274
  11. ^ Frame, The Cruel Legacy, p. 5.
  12. ^ Tom Frame, 2005, A Cruel Legacy, p 21
  13. ^ a b Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, p. 218
  14. ^ Jones, in The Royal Australian Navy, pp. 218-219
  • Cooper, Alastair (2001). "The Korean War Era (pp 155-180); The Era of Forward Defence (pp 181-210)". In Stevens, David. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence (vol III). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-54116-2. OCLC 50418095. 
  • Frame, Tom (2005). The Cruel Legacy: the HMAS Voyager tragedy. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1741152542. OCLC 61213421. 
  • Peter, Jones (2001). "Towards Self-Reliance (pp. 211-238)". In Stevens, David. The Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Centenary History of Defence. III. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-54116-2. OCLC 50418095. 
  • Lind, Lew (1986) [1982]. The Royal Australian Navy - Historic Naval Events Year by Year (2nd ed. ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Reed Books. ISBN 0730100715. OCLC 16922225. 
  • Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981, Maurice Cocker, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
  • Royal Navy Destroyers since 1945, Leo Marriot, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-1817-0

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