Take a trip to the Firth of Clyde and you’ll sometimes notice a Type 23 Frigate sailing in the area, but why?
Much of the time, there is a very specific reason with the vessel having a very specific function, Towed Array Patrol Ship.
The primary purpose of the Towed Array Patrol Ship (TAPS) is to watch for submarine activity, especially around HMNB Clyde which is the home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
Simply put, TAPS is a standing Royal Navy task to provide anti-submarine patrol duties in support of the Vanguard class nuclear submarines that are responsible for delivering Trident nuclear missiles.
A Type 23 frigate is maintained at high readiness for this task 365 days a year and can typically be found, as said above, around or near the west coast of Scotland.
Type 23 Frigates provide the towed array patrol ship for reactive anti-submarine patrol duties in support of the strategic nuclear deterrent.
To perform this task, a portion of the Type 23 Frigate fleet carry Sonar 2087. The system is described by its manufacturer as “a towed-array system that enables Type 23 frigates to hunt the latest submarines at considerable distances and locate them beyond the range at which they can launch an attack.”
The system was fitted to eight Type 23 frigates between 2004 and 2012; the five oldest Type 23 frigates, HMS Montrose, Monmouth, Iron Duke, Lancaster and Argyll are not scheduled to receive Sonar 2087 and are considered more ‘general purpose’ vessels and will be replaced by the Type 31e where as the eight towed array equipped ships will be replaced like for like by eight Type 26 Frigates.
A frigate is maintained at high readiness for this task 365 days a year.