HMS Edinburgh Bows Out after Three Decades of Service
Birkenhead-built destroyer HMS Edinburgh has proudly sailed down the Mersey for the very last time, closing a chapter in history. HMS Edinburgh sailed out of the Cammell Laird Yard and joined a procession of ships departing Liverpool at the end of the highly successful Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary weekend staged on the River Mersey.
But, for Edinburgh, her departure also marked the end of an era as she is the last of the Royal Navy’s Type 42 destroyers – the last of her kind ever built at Cammell Laird. At nearly 30 years old, like her sister ships, she is being decommissioned to make way for the new, state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyer.
During her five day stay in Merseyside thousands of people queued for the opportunity to go onboard. Many were former sailors, others helped build her, but the majority were merely curious visitors wanting the opportunity to see inside a class of ship that for 40 years has been the backbone of the Royal Navy.
HMS Edinburgh’s Commanding Officer, Commander Nick Borbone, said: “I would like to extend my thanks to the people of Liverpool for being so open and welcoming to myself and the Ship’s Company of HMS Edinburgh.
“This weekend has been a phenomenal success, thousands have come to Birkenhead to see the last in class Type 42 and we have been delighted to show them around and pay tribute to the skill of the Cammell Laird team that built HMS Edinburgh.”
Bowing out after three decades and with 793,345 miles on the clock, HMS Edinburgh was launched in April 1983 and commissioned in December 1985. Her first deployment was to the 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 before returning there during her final overseas deployment which ended in March 2013.
HMS Edinburgh was the 14th and final Type 42 to enter service. Earlier this month HMS Edinburgh departed her homeport of Portsmouth to undertake a Farewell Tour of the UK.
She has visited London, her affiliated city of Edinburgh, and the city where she was built, Liverpool. She will return to Portsmouth later this week and be officially decommissioned on 6 June.
Cdr Borbone added: “This final leg of the journey is going to be a difficult one. Departing Liverpool is an occasion tinged with sadness as we are moving one step closer to saying our final farewell to HMS Edinburgh. We are a nation reliant upon the sea and HMS Edinburgh has served us well.
“However, we must look to the future and the new Type 45 destroyer is larger and more capable than anything that has gone before with a longevity and flexibility that should see the Royal Navy through another 30 to 40 years.”
Press Release, May 28, 2013; Image: Royal Navy