Vosper Mark 1 Corvette, RLNS Tobruk (C01)

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Vosper Mark 1 Corvette, RLNS Tobruk (C01)


Coastal vessel, Libyan corvette, second in a long line of Cold War Vosper-Thornycroft export ships. Slow with light main gun, but good AA coverage.

In the 1960s, Vospers and Vickers-Armstrong presented a new small ship design, the Mark 1 corvette. In Britain it was mocked as a “poor man’s frigate”, but it was not meant for domestic use. Rather, the newly independent colonial nations would need a multi functional and cheap ship to form their newly founded navies, and soon orders from 2 countries came in, Ghana and Libya, with the lineage of ships started by the Mark 1 corvette would become one of British shipbuilding’s most successful exports. The Mark 1 corvette was a small vessel, displacing only 500 tons, and was armed with 4-inch guns taken from old A and T-class submarines, a Bofors AA gun, and a Squid ASW mortar, allowing it to fight a variety of targets. The Ghanaian Navy took the standard design, but the Libyan Navy wanted a gunboat design with more Bofors at the expense of the ASW mortar. However despite its small size and old weaponry, it was still a modern design, featuring new radars, air conditioning, NBC protection, and “yacht style” crew accommodations.

The Royal Libyan Navy ordered a modified Mark 1 corvette (sometimes the Libyan variant is called the Mark 1B) in 1965, which compared to the standard Mark 1 design featured 3 more Bofors AA guns and had anti-rolling fins, but lacked ASW weaponry or a search radar, and had weaker machinery. The ship, named Tobruk, was completed in 1966 and became one of the first ships of the Libyan Navy. It never saw any military action, but was used as a state yacht due to its high quality accommodations. 2 of the 40mm guns were removed in 1970, and it underwent a modernization in 1983 at the Turkish Taşkızak shipyard, where it replaced the 2 L/60 Bofors with newer L/70 Bofors. In 1989 it was turned into a training hulk in Tripoli, and sometime later discarded and moved to Al Khums. In 2012 it was still extant, likely by now has been scrapped.

Specifications: (1966)

1x1 4"/40 (102mm) QF Mk.XXIII (200 rounds)
4x1 40mm Bofors L/60 Mk.9 (1200 rounds)
2x1 12.7mm M2
2 51mm RFL countermeasure launchers

440t standard
508t full

Length: 54m

Beam: 8.7m

Draft: 4m

Propulsion: 2 Paxman Ventura 16YJCM diesel engines, 3800 hp, driving 2 shafts

Speed: 18 knots (33.3 km/h)

Range: 2800nmi (at 14 knots)

Crew: 63

Kelvin Hughes navigation radar


Tobruk under construction
Tobruk at the Taşkızak shipyard


From some sort of Polish model kit

Ehlers, H. (2012). Fregaty biedaka. In Okręty Wojenne Vol. XIX, Nr 3/2012 (pp. 86-97).
Gardiner, R., Chumbley, S., & Budzbon, P. (1995). Ghana. In Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1995 (pp. 157). Naval Institute Press.
Sobański, M. (2011). Libijska Marynarka Wojenna. In Okręty Wojenne Vol. XVIII, Nr 108 (4/2011) (pp. 90-92).
This article from “The Engineer”



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