While the carriers were supposed to provide air cover for
their Artic fleet, the Swedish Navy was perfectly conscious of the threat posed by aircrafts to a surface fleet.
They therefore ordered two specifically designed missile destroyers to take advantage of the RSC151 missile, initially
developped by Oerlikon in Switzerland and further enhance by Bofors. Three such destroyers had been ordered
initially but the third Lake class destroyer was later cancelled notwithstanding the fact that works were well
With the help of the US Navy, Eriksbergs
Mekaniska Verkstads AB developped an automatically reloading (single) launcher, very much similar to the one
developped in the US for the Talos and later Tartar missiles. A similar system was developped to handle the RIM-72
Chaparral missile system, although this was a quadruple type launcher.
To counter surface missiles, these destroyers where equipped
with quad 13.2mm radar directed mountings. Closely related to the American Maxon quads, it was a rather light
system to counter anti-shipping missiles but since the system proved to be very much lethal at short range, it was
These ships may have been designed with two types of
missiles, the RSC-151 actually being a dual purpose weapon, mainly a surface-to-air missile but with a secondary
surface-to-surface role, but standard naval gunnery was not forgotter with two twin 120mm dual purpose turrets.
Not only Eriksbergs managed to sell a refitted Colossus
carrier to South Africa but they also managed to secure the sales of the third Lake destroyer. However,
taking into account the embargo the US was implementing against South Africa, this third ship was delivered without the
RIM-72 system. Instead, South Africa asked to install one the QF2 pom-pom quad guns, of which they had plenty in
storage. The ship entered service with the South African Navy as the Walter
T. Ashcroft after the name of a WW2 POW who served in the Royal Navy.
Although the ship was classical in design, its propulsion
wasn't. Contrary to modern destroyers and frigates, the Lake class was not turbine but diesel powered with
a pair of 19800KW MAN diesel. While this propulsion setup prevented the ship to reach high speed, it offered a
much larger range, ensuring that air defence was effectively offered to the carrier it was supposed to escort.
This solution was thus chosen, considering it was much more important to be able to cruise at 25 knots than jumping at
35 knots and consume all fuel. Still, a top speed in calm sea was measured at 31 knots.