HMS BRISTOL was built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., at Wallsend-on-Tyne. Laid down in April 1967, she was launched in 1969 by Lady Hogg and completed in December 1972.

The ship is 507 feet long, has a beam of 55 feet and a standard displacement of 6,000 tons. She is powered by two steam turbines for normal steaming and two Olympus gas turbines for additional boost for high speeds or for leaving harbour in an emergency. The four power units are coupled to two shafts giving the ship a maximum speed in excess of 30 knots. To meet the requirements of weapons and domestic facilities the ship has a total generating capacity of 7,000 kilowatts.

HMS BRISTOL is the most powerful guided missile ship yet built for the Royal Navy. Compared with earlier warships she may seem to have fewer visible signs of weaponry, but this is misleading. She packs a very remarkable fire power effectively designed to meet not only today's threat but that of the foreseeable future. Her role is now three-fold, firstly, she is the lead ship of the Dartmouth Training Squadron in which young officers under training from Britannia Royal Naval College receive their first experience of life at sea in the Royal Navy. Secondly, and of equal importance is her ability to act as a Flag Ship and Command Platform for an Admiral commanding a Task Group. Lastly, HMS BRISTOL retains her ability to provide area air defence for herself and ships operating with her.

To achieve the last two roles HMS BRISTOL carries a comprehensive and extensive communications outfit and deploys a number of advanced weapon systems.

The ship's radar and sonar (underwater detection) equipment monitor activity over a wide area and feed basic data into two micro-miniaturised computers. The Ship's Inertial Navigation System (SINS), a complex installation of electronics and sensitive gyroscopes, continuously inform the computers of the ship's geographical position, course, speed, pitch and roll attitude. These inputs enable the computers to provide an up to date visual presentation which ensures the most efficient and accurate employment of the weapons and the control of other ships and aircraft.

Because modern warfare requires quick reaction all the weapon systems are fully automatic, but the decision to open fire remains with the Captain, who is also responsible for the tactical handling and fighting of the ship.

Comprehensive radio communications equipment enables the ship to maintain vital links with other ships, aircraft and the shore. The ship can exchange signals with any part of the world and can be in constant communication with the Ministry of Defence or the Operational Commander throughout 24 hours each day.

The main armament is the Sea Dart, a missile with supersonic speed, range and manoeuvrability to to cope with any air or missile attack. The Sea Dart can also be used effectively against surface targets.

4.5" GUN
The gun armament consists of a single barrel 4.5 inch mounting which can be used for self-defence antiaircraft fire against other ships, and for shore bombardment in support of the Army. It is automatic, which means it has an unmanned turret, and has a high rate of fire.

Her close range defences consist of a two twin 30mm guns, four single 20mm guns and 3-inch rocket launchers which fire chaff.

HMS BRISTOL, when at sea or away from her base port, is home for 29 officers and 378 ratings. She can be likened to a small town whose inhabitants carry out all the normal domestic and town chores as well as doing their daily work. Further, this town may move rapidly from the tropics to the Arctic.

Manpower is a very expensive commodity in a warship. Every member of the crew is a skilled, highly trained man, who, if he is to be economically used, must be properly managed and given every possible mechanical aid to carry out his ship upkeep duties. He also requires living conditions which are as comfortable and up to date as it is possible to provide in a fighting unit where so much space is demanded by weapons, machinery and stores.

Every effort has been made in the BRISTOL to see that these ideals have been met. She is not the first ship to have bunks, vacuum cleaners, air-conditioning, laundry, NAAFI shop and a modern cafeteria - to name a few facilities - but she was among the first to have her interior decor chosen by a firm of consultants and to have her own TV studio and cameras. Points like these typify the thought and money which has been spent in making her comfortable and easy to run, as well as being a powerful fighting ship.

Although the ship's company have families from all over the British Isles, from places as far apart as Dundee and Guernsey, they are very proud of the ship's association with the city whose name she bears. Most of all, however, they are proud to serve in one of their country's finest warships.

The main control position of the engine room. Here the watch-keepers control the steam and gas turbines.


1653 4th rate Battleship. 48 guns. Displacement  532 tons. Crew 230
In action against Dutch and French Fleets foundered after being captured in 1709
1711 4th rate Battleship. 50 guns. 704 tons.  Crew 350.  
In action against French Fleets. Sold 1768
1775 4th rate Battleship. 50 guns. 1044 tons.  Crew 350.  
In action during war of American Independence and against French Fleets.  Sold 1810
1796 3rd rate Battleship. 64 guns. 1439 tons.  Crew 491.
Originally named HMS Agincourt.  Renamed HMS BRISTOL in 1809
1861 Ist class Screw Frigate. 31 guns. 4020 tons.  Crew 600. Used as a seagoing training ship for cadets from the Britannia Royal Naval College. Sold 1883

Town Class light Cruiser. 2x6 inch and 1OX4 inch guns. Crew 610. In action in South Atlantic and Adriatic during World War 1. Sold 1921.