Tears Louisa Johnson & Clean Bandit
31 May 2013, 08:28
HMS Edinburgh, the Royal Navy's last remaining Type 42 destroyer, is returning to her home port of Portsmouth for the final time.
The 30-year-old warship, which has clocked up almost 800,000 miles, decommissions on 6 June as the Type 42s make way for the new-generation Type 45s.
Edinburgh returns to Portsmouth from a month-long farewell tour of the UK which included visits to her namesake city and Liverpool where she was built. She also stopped off in London where she played a part in events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.
In keeping with Navy tradition the ship will be flying a decommissioning pennant on her final return and will be accompanied by HMS Defender - one of the Navy's successor Type 45s.
Edinburgh will fire a 21-gun salute as she approaches the harbour and the saluting gun at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, will respond in a similar fashion.
Weather permitting the event will also be marked with a flypast by a Sea Fury of the RN Historic Flight plus a modern-day Lynx helicopter.
Edinburgh's Commanding Officer, Commander Nick Borbone, said:
"After the success of her final operational deployment in March, this has been a fitting finale to an illustrious career for HMS Edinburgh.
"The welcome, hospitality and warmth that we have received during visits to the capital, her namesake city and finally to her birthplace in Liverpool is clear evidence of a nation that holds the Royal Navy in extremely high regard."
"Coinciding with the Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary commemorations, we have been able to open the ship to thousands of visitors across the nation all of whom have had a chance to experience a Type 42 for the final time and also see for themselves how the Royal Navy continues to play a vital role in protecting the interests of the UK.
"Sadly, Edinburgh and the Type 42 destroyers' part in that has come to an end but the new generation of modern and capable Type 45 destroyers are ready to take on the mantle from here."
The public will have a final chance to step on board a Type 42 on Saturday and Sunday (1 and 2 June) as Edinburgh opens to visitors free of charge at Portsmouth Naval Base between 10am and 4pm.
And her White Ensign will be lowered for the final time during a decommissioning ceremony at the Naval Base on 6 June.
Built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead, Edinburgh was launched in April 1983 and commissioned in December 1985.
Her first deployment was to the Arabian Gulf in 1987, escorting numerous merchant ships safely through the region.
The following year HRH The Duke of York joined as one of the ship's officers, serving on board during a six-month round-the-world deployment.
In 1996 Edinburgh rescued the crew of a crippled sailing boat while on patrol in the Gulf. She despatched her Lynx helicopter to rescue all nine Pakistani crewmen from the vessel after it took on water in stormy conditions and eventually sank.
She took part in the second Gulf War in 2003, supporting Royal Marines ashore and acting as escort to the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean.
The following year Edinburgh deployed to the Mediterranean and was involved in Operation Active Endeavour, monitoring sea lanes as part of the war on terror.
And in 2008 during operations in the Gulf she seized a drugs cargo - stashed on board a sailing boat - worth several million pounds.
Edinburgh entered refit in 2010 and spent most of the following year in the South Atlantic. She returned from her final deployment - conducting security patrols across the South and North Atlantic - in March.
Type 42 air defence destroyers have been the backbone of the Royal Navy's fleet since the first - HMS Sheffield - was launched in 1971 and commissioned in 1975. Edinburgh was the 14th and final Type 42 to enter service.
They have served on wide-ranging operations across the globe. Five were involved in the Falklands conflict of 1982 and the three in the Gulf War in 1991. As recently as 2011, HMS Liverpool was ordered to Libya as part of the Navy's contribution to NATO's naval blockade of the country during its civil war. She supported the no-fly zone by controlling NATO aircraft from the sea, enforced the embargo on arms sales to the Gaddafi regime, and fired 111 high-explosive rounds against targets ashore.