Fearless was the first purpose built LPD used by the Royal Navy. Built in Belfast at the Harland and Wolff yard, she was launched in 1963 before undergoing trials and commissioning in 1965.
Following commissioning, her first operational tasking was acting as a command platform for British Counter-Terrorism operations in Aden, operating Royal Air Force aircraft and the Irish Guards prior to the British withdrawal as Flag of a 25 ship task group.
In 1968, she was the venue for talks between Harold Wilson and Ian Smith over the future of Rhodesia. The latter had unilaterally declared independence from Britain due to Britain’s insistence on the removal of white minority rule.
In 1972, Fearless ferried several Centurion AVRE demolition vehicles, derived from the Centurion tank to Northern Ireland to be deployed there as part of Operation Motorman.
In 1977 Fearless would be featured in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me as the ship which picks up Bond’s escape pod. The filming took place the previous year near the island of Malta.
In 1982 the Falklands War was to see both sister ships go to sea together with Fearless to be the Command ship for land based operations, mainly due to the fact she was at that time commissioned and fitted with the modern satellite communications equipment centre.
The ships were part of the British naval force committed to Operation Corporate, the 1982 Falklands War. Fearless was host to the staff of amphibious force commander Commodore Michael Clapp (Commodore Amphibious Warfare (COMAW)), and Commanding Officer 3 Commando Brigade, Brigadier Julian Thompson and his staff, as well as elements of the landing force. As a result of the conflict, Royal Marine Coxswain Corporal Alan White received a commendation from the Task Force Commander, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, for his part in rescuing 41 crew from HMS Antelope using Foxtrot 7, one of four LCVP landing craft carried by Fearless.
The loss of LCU F4 and the loss of 6 of her crew was to be a devastating blow to the ships crew and the replacement for F4 was never to carry the F4 out of respect to those lost.
She was placed out of commission for three years in 1985 prior to a two-year refit at Devonport, recommissioning in 1991. During this refit, her 1940s-vintage 40mm Bofors cannon and 1960s-vintage Sea Cat anti-aircraft missile launchers were replaced by 20 mm BMARC and Phalanx CIWS guns.
From 1991 until 1995 she continued one of her main roles supporting the sea training phase of initial officer training, undertaken at Britannia Royal Naval College, as part of the Dartmouth Training Squadron.
She was due to undertake an operation in the Gulf, but that was handed to HMS Ocean in 2000. Her last major duty was to take part in amphibious exercises shortly before decommissioning.
Fearless was decommissioned in 2002 and awaited disposal in Fareham Creek, Hampshire, moored alongside her sister ship Intrepid. In October 2007, it was reported that Fearless was to be scrapped in Belgium, five years after the vessel was officially mothballed in Portsmouth.
On 17 December 2007, Fearless was towed to Ghent in Belgium to be broken up.
This was the first warship successfully exported for recycling by any western government that fully complied with international agreements and the principles concerning environmentally sound management of waste.
Replacement LPDs were ordered during the 1990s with Albion and Bulwark. They were commissioned in 2003.