HMAS Duchess (D154)

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Career (United Kingdom (RN)) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Duchess
Builder: John I. Thornycroft and Company
Laid down: 8 July 1948
Launched: 9 April 1951
Commissioned: 23 October 1952
Motto: "Duci Non Trahi" (To Be Led But Not Dragged)
Fate: Loaned to RAN in 1964, sold 1972
Career (Australia (RAN)) Naval Ensign of Australia.svg
Name: HMAS Duchess
Acquired: 8 May 1964
Commissioned: 8 May 1964
Decommissioned: 24 October 1977
Reclassified: Training ship (1974)
Nickname: "Her Ladyship"
Fate: Sold for scrap 7 May 1980
Badge: HMAS Duchess.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Daring class destroyer
Displacement: 3,600 tons
Length: 390 feet (120 m) overall
Beam: 43 feet (13 m)
Draught: 13.6 feet (4.1 m)
Propulsion: 2 x Foster Wheeler boilers (650 psi, 850 °F), English Electric steam turbines, 2 shafts, 54,000 shp (40 MW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Range: 4,400 nautical miles (8,100 km) at 20 knots (37 km/h)
Complement: 278 as destroyer
243 as training ship
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament: 6 x QF 4.5 inch /45 (113 mm) Mark V guns in 3 twin mountings UD Mark VI
4 x 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 2 twin mounts STAAG Mark II
2 x 40 mm /60 Bofors A/A in 1 twin mount Mark V
5x 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes in Pentard mounting
1 x Squid anti submarine mortar Mark 10
1 x Sea Cat missile system (installed later[clarification needed])
4 x 3-pdr saluting guns
Notes: Aft 4.5 inch twin mounting, torpedo tubes, and Squid mortar were removed in 1974 during conversion to training ship.
Taken from:[1]

HMAS Duchess (D154) was a Daring class destroyer that served in the Royal Navy (RN) as HMS Duchess (I94) from 1952 to 1964, and in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1964 to 1980.

Commissioned into the RN in 1952, Duchess operated with the British Home Fleet and in the Mediterranean, was involved in the 1956 Suez Crisis, and served as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. Following the Melbourne-Voyager collision, Duchess was loaned to the RAN in 1964 as a temporary replacement for HMAS Voyager. The destroyer was purchased by Australia in 1972, converted into a training ship over the next two years, and continued to operate with the RAN until her paying off in 1977, and her sale for scrap in 1980.


Duchess was laid down by John I. Thornycroft and Company of Woolston at Southampton on 8 July 1948.[2](I) She was launched on 9 April 1951 by Countess Edwina Mountbatten, and commissioned into the RN on 23 October 1952.[3]

Operational history

Royal Navy

Duchess was initially assigned to the British Home Fleet in early 1953.[3] In September 1954 and July 1955, the destroyer was deployed to the Mediterranean, and near the end of the year escorted the Royal Yacht Britannia during the final leg of Queen Elizabeth's and the Duke of Edinburgh's world tour.[3] Duchess continued to operate in the Mediterranean until July 1955, and was involved in the Suez Crisis in 1956.[3][clarification needed] Sometime between 1956 and 1964,[clarification needed] the destroyer operated with the Far East Strategic Reserve.[3]


Following the loss of the Daring class destroyer HMAS Voyager in a collision with the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne on 10 February 1964, both the United Kingdom and the United States of America offered to loan ships to the RAN as a replacement; the RN offering Duchess while the United States Navy offered two Fletcher class destroyers: US Ships The Sullivans and Twining.[4] Duchess was accepted on a four-year loan and modernised, while two modified River class frigates (HMA Ships Swan and Torrens) were constructed as permanent replacements.[4] Duchess was acquired by the RAN on 8 May 1964, and commissioned on the same day.[3]

Royal Australian Navy

Although she had been loaned to the RAN for only four years, Duchess remained in RAN service after this time, and was purchased outright by the Australian Government in 1972.[4]

At the start of 1973, Duchess underwent a refit that removed several of her weapons and installed a classroom, for future service as a training ship.[3] Re-entering service in August 1974, the ship performed her first training cruise in early 1975, visiting ports in south-west Australia and New Zealand.[3] Training cruises also occurred in late 1975, 1976, and 1977.[3]

Decommissioning and fate

In September 1977, Duchess was removed from service, and was paid off on 24 October 1977.[3] The ship was sold for breaking up as scrap on 7 May 1980, and departed Sydney under tow for Taiwan on 9 July.[3]


  • ^(I) 8 July is the date of laying down listed by the British Ministry of Defence Naval Historical Branch. However, some sources give 2 July as the date.[5]


  1. Cassells, The Destroyers, pgs 34–5, 238
  2. Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 34
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 35
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Tom Frame, 2005, A Cruel Legacy, pp 21-22
  5. Cassells, The Destroyers, p. 238