Farewell To Portsmouth Royal Navy Warship
30 June 2011, 10:10
A decommissioning ceremony is being held for a Royal Navy destroyer which is being put into retirement after 25 years of service.
Portsmouth based, HMS Gloucester, a Type 42 destroyer, clocked up 787,928 miles during service around the world and made the first successful engagement of a missile by another missile in combat at sea.
Prayers will be said at the farewell service in Portsmouth on 30th June.
At the time of its launch in 1982, Gloucester, which was built by Vosper Thorneycroft at Woolston, Southampton, was the longest vessel built at the shipyard since the Second World War.
The ship, nicknamed 'the Fighting G', saw its most notable action in January 1991 when it escorted American battleship USS Missouri close to the Kuwaiti coast during the Gulf War.
As the Missouri came under attack by an Iraqi Seersucker missile, HMS Gloucester fired a salvo of Sea Darts to knock the Iraqi projectile from the sky in what proved to be the first validated, successful missile-versus-missile strike of its kind.
The ship also helped in the evacuation of British nationals during the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006, making three round trips to carry Britons to safety from Beirut to Cyprus.
Gloucester made the headlines again in 2010 during its final overseas deployment in the mid-Atlantic when it intercepted the yacht Tortuga, which was smuggling cocaine.
Commanding officer Commander David George said when the ship arrived in Portsmouth for the final time last month: "I cannot express how proud I am of the ship.
"It was a very emotional final entry for the very best of ships, but she is 29 years old, and with more than 750,000 miles under her belt.
"There are more capable Type 45 destroyers now taking the stage, and Gloucester's time has come to bow out with dignity."
HMS Gloucester's final deployment was off the south-west coast of the UK, where it joined fellow Royal Navy ships to take part in Exercise Saxon Warrior alongside vessels from France, Spain and the US.