Hall, Russell & Company – builders of five Corvettes for service in Hong Kong
Our article, Hall, Russell & Company, Shipbuilders, Aberdeen, Scotland, briefly mentioned a connection between the shipyard and Hong Kong. Namely, “The Hall Russell Yard was nationalised in July 1977, becoming part of British Shipbuilders Corporation, and then was dedicated to naval work. This was undertaken for British, and Hong Kong governments.” Intrigued, I asked Stephen Davies if he could offer some further information about what this naval work involved.
Stephen Davies: Hall Russell/BSL were the lead contractors for and builders of the five Peacock class patrol vessels specially designed and built for the HK squadron (see the Peacock class- corvette wikipedia link below). hSo there is your HK connection. In fact the ships began – as they remained – slightly controversial both because of the expense (75% (HK$455 million (original estimate in 1980/81 c.HK$240 million)) of which was met by HK) and because of design problems. They had the aluminium/magnesium superstructures that had proved disastrous in the Falklands War, welding quality in the superstructure was defective, they had a major problem with engine mountings for the propulsion system, they rolled heavily but were too stiff (so very quick, snap rolling in a seaway) and had to be retro-fitted with bilge keels as roll dampers. When the main gun fired during trials, all the bridge windows popped out! And they were two years late being delivered!
HK Shipyard and the Chung Wah Shipbuilding & Engineering Co both tendered in the competitive tendering exercise. HUD had earlier expressed an interest…then discovered their yard couldn’t build ships that big (150’ loa – Length Overall of the vessel )! In UK Brooke Marine & Thorneycroft were the other tenderers to Hall, Russell/BSL. It was reported (though no one knows the truth) that Hall, Russell came in with the lowest bid. It was in fact a stacked deck. The UK yard was mandated to do the design and build the first ship. The HK yards could only quote to build the last four. Worse, they couldn’t submit their bids to the tender board. They had to send their bids to the UK yards (all three bidding for the design, prototype and build contract) for them to then add a ‘fair’ share of the design, etc. cost…and surprise, surprise, the HK yards were more expensive!
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