Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers
Organisation / Units & Squadrons
HMS Sutherland (F81)
Organisation / Units & Squadrons

HMS Sutherland (F81)

HMS Sutherland is a Type 23 frigate – and the fastest in the Royal Navy fleet. She deploys all over the globe, and specialises in submarine hunting.

HMS Sutherland


HMS Sutherland is able to adapt to a range of missions at a moment’s notice. She has regularly acted as Towed Array Patrol Ship and Fleet Ready Escort, ready and able to respond to urgent challenges in UK waters: counter terrorism; prevention of smuggling and people trafficking; maritime patrol; surveillance; and anti-submarine operations.

She was chosen to escort HMS Queen Elizabeth out of Rosyth in Scotland on the aircraft carrier’s maiden voyage for sea trials in 2017, and was the first warship to take a Royal Navy Wildcat maritime attack helicopter to the Asia Pacific region.


HMS Sutherland is the thirteenth of the Type 23 frigates. She was built on the Clyde by Yarrow Shipbuilders and launched by Lady Christina Walmsley in 1996. Royal Navy ships are usually launched with the ceremonial breaking of a bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull, but when Sutherland was launched, Lady Walmsley broke with tradition and used a bottle of Macallan Scottish whisky.

Versatile and adaptable, Sutherland’s missions vary from finding and striking enemy warships through to evacuating citizens from disaster zones. She is also our fastest recorded frigate, achieving over 34 knots (39mph) during time trials in 2004.

HMS Sutherland’s primary role in a task group is to provide an anti-submarine screen for the main force. Because of this, she has some unique specialities:

  • She can embark either a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter which can carry torpedoes and depth charges to attack submarines at longer ranges.
  • She is fitted with a world class low frequency active and passive towed array sonar, used to detect, classify and track submarines before they detect her.
Duke Class


Led by Commander Tom Weaver, the ship’s company – a crew of around 200 – is split into Warfare, Marine Engineering, Weapon Engineering, Logistics, Flight and Executive. They’re specialists in their own areas, though all members of the crew are also trained in ‘wholeship duties’ including damage control, fire fighting and first aid.

Sutherland also welcomes specialists including as linguists, intelligence analysts and a Royal Marines boarding team depending on the operation.

Unit history

Follow HMS Sutherland on X

Follow us

Join the Surface Fleet

Ready to go places? A career in the Surface Fleet could take you all over the world - on missions as varied as the oceans we defend.

Featured roles