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Royal Navy's Type 23 frigate Kent successfully launches Sting Ray torpedo.

| 2022

According to information published by the UK MoD on September 27, 2022, HMS Kent flexed her muscles after the summer break by firing up most of her weapons systems – including the rare launch of a torpedo.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Royal Navy's Type 23 frigate Kent launching Sting Ray torpedo (Picture source: UK MoD)

To prepare herself for front-line duties later this autumn, the Portsmouth-based frigate sent high explosive shells hurtling out of the main 4.5in gun to calibrate muzzle velocity (they should burst out of the barrel at more than twice the speed of sound), test fired machine guns both on the ship and her Pacific 24 sea boats, streamed out her Sonar 2087 towed array (a 1,700-metre 'tail' lined with hydrophones and Kent’s best ears when hunting submarines) and firing off a Sting Ray, one of two weapons she uses to take out those underwater threats.

Following post-deployment maintenance she was straight into active duties again, culminating in six weeks of intensive training off Plymouth just before the summer break.

While most crew enjoyed summer leave, the ship herself underwent a mix of maintenance and upgrades… hence the run through most systems upon returning to sea this month.

Sting Ray is principally launched by a Merlin Mk2 (which can also drop depth charges to deal with hostile submarines). Ideally the combination of Sonar 2087 and Sting Ray-armed Merlin should keep underwater threats at bay, well out of range of striking distance of Kent.

But if not the ship carries horizontal launchers – just forward of the Portsmouth frigate's hangar – which use high pressure to propel Sting Ray out of its tube, before the small drogue parachute deploys to slow its entry into the water.

Thereafter, the torpedo - packing a 100lb explosive charge to ruin any submariner's day - races through the water at more than 50mph until it strikes its target.

In this instance the explosive charge was replaced by concrete in a training variant of the torpedo, which was recovered at the end of its run.

Enter the new Merlin Flight, provided by Culdrose-based 814 Naval Air Squadron (the Flying Tigers) integrating with crew, conducted vital training including secondary roles such as winching, emergency landing and a simulated crash on deck.

The frigate is now gearing up for the main military exercise in the UK this autumn, Joint Warrior, which begins in Scotland on Saturday involving around two dozen ships and submarines and more than 30 helicopters and aircraft.

About the HMS Kent

HMS Kent is a Type 23 Duke class frigate of the Royal Navy. The frigate was launched on 28 May 1998 and commissioned on 8 June 2000. She was the first ship to enter Royal Navy service in the 21st century.

The frigate has a length of 133 m (436 ft 4 in), a beam of 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in), and a draught of 7.3 m (23 ft 11 in). She can reach a top speed of 28 knots ( 52 km/h; 32 mph).

HMS Kent has a displacement of 4,900 t (4,800 long tons; 5,400 short tons), a range of 7,500 nautical miles (14,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h). She can carry a complement of 185 sailors.

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