Range Finder Special

HMS Intrepid

DAVE WOOLEY with some unusual and useful pictures for modellers

In late 2008 I had a rare opportunity to visit HMS Intrepid (L11) in Liverpool as she was being dismantled and these are just some of the pictures that I took. This was the last occasion to see this once proud vessel before complete dismantling and she would be no more. So for me this visit was tinged with sadness but also curiosity, because I have long been intrigued as to the below the waterline configuration which is rarely seen or possible to be photographed.

Both of H.M. Ships Intrepid and Fearless were part of what was a genuine new approach (at least for the RN) for amphibious operations when they were conceived. HMS Intrepid was laid down at John Brown Shipyard, Clydebank on the 25th June 1964, entering service in April 1967. Nominal displacement was 12120 tons which increased to nearly 17000tons when ballasted down to allow landing craft to enter and leave the flooded stern dock. Both vessels were 520ft long and 80ft in beam.

Geared steam turbines developing 22000shp on two shafts provided propulsion with a range of 5000nm at 20kts. HMS Intrepid was initially armed with 40mm guns and Sea Cat SAM point defence systems. In 1985 the after Sea Cat launchers were replaced with 30mm guns. She and her sister were designed to operate LCMs from the internal dock and LCVPs from davits. In 1976 and due to government cutbacks at the time, HMS Intrepid was paid off into reserve and only one of the class was kept operational. Both vessels were intended for disposal prior to the Falklands conflict with the real prospect of HMS Intrepid serving with the Argentina Navy. In April 1982 circumstances changed as we all know and both vessels proved their worth in that time of need, so indeed a salutary lesson as to their worth.

The end of a great ship

Through the DSA (Defence Disposal Agency) it was agreed that HMS Intrepid was to be dismantled and re-cycled in the UK in accordance with the Basel Convention. The contract was won by Leavesley International with project partners Technical Demolition Services of Birkenhead. HMS Intrepid left Portsmouth under tow and arrived in Liverpool on 17th of September 2008 and was locked into the Canada Graving Dock for dismantling and recycling. The pictures you see are of that work underway. It is estimated that when completed in 2009, over 95% of the vessel will have been recycled.

Plans of this class of vessel are available from Jecobin and PSShips offer a 1:96 scale hull and fittings for HMS Fearless as in 2000, for those interested in these ships as a modelling project. In due course, I expect to include more pictures in Range Finder that should be of assistance to modellers and also feature a very well built model.

My thanks to Technical Demolition Services and to Dave Morris for all his help and assistance in making these photographs possible.