It seems like only yesterday that on behalf of the Master we attended the re-commissioning of HMS EDINBURGH or as She is fondly known “Fortress of the Sea”. It was a joyous day of great expectation on the part of the crew and of the ship and Her supporters - but we all knew this was to be Her swan song voyage via the Gulf to again patrol the Southern Seas and more especially the Falklands.
On 6 June this year Andrew Hubbard and I, on behalf of the Master, attended the decommissioning of this great vessel - an occasion which will stay for ever in our hearts and minds.
Over the years we have grown close to the Ship and her officers and crew some of whom have been guests at our Mansion House banquets.
Captain Paul Russell and his wife were crew members on the occasion of our entry in the Inter Livery yacht race at Cowes. There have been other social dinners and many “sea days” that we have had the excitement and honour of sharing.
The affiliation of our Company and HMS EDINBURGH originated with Past Masters Roger Taylor and Tony Lancaster attending a dinner on board when She was moored in Scotland - starting a relationship specially mentioned in the decommissioning speech by the current Captain Nick Borbone RN.
The ceremony was attended by all past Commanding Officers, except one who was in the Southern Seas. We Company representatives were seated near the past captains, which enabled us to renew old acquaintances and recall experiences at sea on the ship.
I quote a few paragraphs from the order of Service Commander Nick Borbone’s forward which indicate the esteem and some history of “the Fortress”
“I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all and thank you for coming to Portsmouth Naval Base to mark the decommissioning of this great ship and the end of the Type 42 Destroyer era. A poignant day for all of us associated with HMS EDINBURGH, it is also a day of celebration when we remember the 40 years of faithful service that “The Fighting 42s” have given, manned by dedicated men and women, proud to service in this world renowned class of ship. Every ship has a tale to tell and today we concentrate on EDINBURGH whilst not forgetting that she is part of a heritage that has seen her sister ships and some of their Companies lost in action; we will always remember them.
EDINBURGH was laid down on 8th September 1980 and launched on 14th April 1983 by our sponsor Lady Heseltine, who we are both delighted and honoured to welcome again today to mark the end of this proud ship and her operational life.
During her time, EDINBURGH and her people have flown the flag in a variety of demanding operations in all corners of the world. She has been deployed to the Falklands on numerous occasions and in 2003 she closely supported Royal Marines landings on the Al Faw peninsula in Iraq during OP TELIC. Over the course of her service, she has steamed nearly 700,000 miles and has become a stalwart of the South Atlantic Patrol completing her final deployment to the region in March of this year. Throughout that deployment, this Ship’s Company maintained the finest traditions of the Service and the class ensuring that the Type 42 bow out in style. EDINBURGH has certainly done her duty and the time has come for her to pass the baton to the next generation of Destroyers.
I would like to take this final opportunity to thank the family and friends of the men and women who make up the current Ship’s Company of HMS EDINBUGH for their unstinting support. I have been honoured to lead such a fine team and I share your pride in them and their achievements”.
The foregoing gives only an inkling of the calibre and esteem of the great ship with which the Company had the honour to be associated. As she moves on it is possible, if funding can be found, for Her to be moored near HMS BRITANNIA as a museum. We wish her a happy retirement.
We are seeking to continue our relationship with the Royal Navy and we have high hopes of a new affiliation with a new vessel. Watch this space!