British Destroyers and Frigates...


...The Second World War and After, from Seaforth Publishing


Title: British Destroyers and Frigates

Author: Norman Friedman

Publisher: Seaforth Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-5267-0282-1

First published back in 2006, this is a new paperback edition for 2017 from Seaforth Publishing, part of Pen and Sword.  A large format, 350 page book it is not just an interesting read but is a first class reference for anyone with an interest in the history of the Royal Navy from WW2 through to the new millennium.  The author is very knowledgeable and has an ability to put over lots of detailed information while doing so in a very readable style for the non-expert (such as me).

The level of detail in this one is quite amazing, and once you get to read some of the complexities of warship design from before WW2, throughout the war and the changing influences post-war it is a fascinating subject to try and get your mind round.  In this instance the author has done a marvellous job of it.  The number of vessels built and used by the British and Commonwealth navies during WW2 was substantial, and they were built to tackle a variety of needs.  Their use as basic Destroyers, carrying torpedoes for use in protecting the fleet and intercepting any potential attackers.  Then there was a need for convoy protection, for anti-aircraft protection and of course anti-submarine tasks.  All this at a time when the Royal Navy still did 'Rule the Waves', a position it was to lose after the war and thereafter.

Since WW2 the ship designers for the Royal Navy have had to work on changing requirements, such as power plants, radar, the provision of helicopters, radar, and of course many types of missile.  Add to this the change in their political masters and challenges over controlling costs and the changing politics of the world.   The British Empire has shrunk considerably, reducing their calls on the Navy though events in places such as the Falkland Islands have still made significant calls on the capabilities of the ships in service.  Ships are also planned and built over a number of years, and situations can move on during that period.  The Cold War was a major factor for a long time, and the British commitment to NATO an important policy requirement.  There is the size of ship to consider and therefore the weapons systems that can be fitted to them.  All these factors are discussed in detail and the text is accompanied by profuse illustrations of photos of the ships being talked about, along with numerous ship plans throughout the book.

At the back of the book are yet more data tables, plus a list of all the various ship classes and the individual pennant numbers of each vessel within each class.  It is an amazingly long list.  I think it will be fascinating for many Royal Navy veterans interested in the ships they knew or served in as well as anyone with an interest in modern naval history.  With so much information is will be a boon for the ship modeller as well.  A great reference on an important class of Royal Navy warships from their use in WW2 and the changing developments over time since then.  Well worth keeping on your bookshelf.