British warships HMS Iron Duke and HMS Somerset, have demonstrated their firepower in live fire exercises.

HMS Iron Duke fired machine guns, miniguns, 30mm cannons, the 4.5in main gun and Sea Wolf missiles while HMS Somerset fired new infra-red illumination rounds.

The Type 23 frigate are the core of the Royal Navy’s frigate fleet and serve alongside the Type 45 destroyers. Originally designed for anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic, the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates have proven their versatility in warfighting, peace-keeping and maritime security operations around the globe. Thirteen Type 23 frigates remain in service with the Royal Navy, with three vessels having been sold to Chile and handed over to the Chilean Navy.

The Royal Navy’s current Type 23 frigates will be replaced by Type 26 frigate from 2021.

HMS Somerset commanding officer commander Michael Wood said:

“These firings have pushed forward our capability to support marines and other land forces ashore. Delivering devastating naval gunfire from our warships is just one facet of our contribution to the nation’s defences.”

HMS Somerset fired more than 100 rounds of 4.5 inch gun ammunition over two days and HMS Iron Duke demonstrated Sea Wolf and later moved into a gunnery shoot against an inflatable target.

Sea Wolf is a missile system designed and built by BAE. It is an automated point-defence weapon system designed as a final line of defence against both sea-skimming and high angle anti-ship missiles and aircraft. The system is effective out to 10km and is to be replaced by Sea Ceptor.


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Nathan Somovilla

Is the gun on the front the only gun on the ship? If it gets disabled how would we fire back?

Missiles would be the first port-of-call, then the gun, unless it’s engaging a sub, in which case torpedoes would be used

Nathan Somovilla

Interesting. So if the gun gets knocked out then missiles are our defence against other surface ships? It seems a bit bare. Why dont they have two or three guns instead of just one?

Darren Lochhead

The gun is mainly used against shore based targets. Missiles are primarily used to disable other ships as have far greater distance

Bobby Abernethy

No, it would use missiles first from well beyond gun range. The gun would be used to engage small boats or land targets.

Nathan Somovilla

cheers guys, very interesting.


Also the on board helicopter – a big part of the ships weapon system.

Dominic Efford

The helicopter is the main weapon of a frigate

greg j

The Falklands War demonstrated the importance of naval gunnery, especially in support of landing forces or those moving near coastal areas. Perhaps additional gun mounts might be useful in this regard?