UK’s Sandown-class minehunter HMS Shoreham departs on final voyage before retirement

Royal Navy’s Sandown-class minehunter HMS Shoreham has departed Clyde Naval Base – its home for the past two decades – for the last time, beginning a short ‘goodbye tour’ of the UK.

HMS Shoreham leaving Faslane; Source: Royal Navy
HMS Shoreham leaving Faslane; Source: Royal Navy

The minehunter was escorted out of Gareloch and into the Clyde by Royal Marines craft and the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron on 10 May.

Credit: Royal Navy

Equipped with a specialist kit, underwater vehicles and a clearance diving team, it’s been Shoreham’s mission to keep sea lanes open by ensuring there are no mines hindering the safe passage of shipping.

In particular, the vessel was in charge of dealing with devices placed in deep waters, thanks to a sonar that detaches from the hull and can be lowered.

Launched at the Vosper Thornycroft yard in Southampton in 2001, HMS Shoreham was commissioned the following year in its namesake Sussex town – the fifth Royal Navy vessel to bear its name.

In 20 years of active service the minehunter has alternated its time between training/operations in home and northern European waters, plus extended stints in the Middle East – typically three years at a time – as part of the Royal Navy’s Gulf-based forces.

The ship has clocked up more than 120,000 nautical miles and visited more than 30 ports at home and abroad while serving under the White Ensign, according to the navy.

She has spent over half her 20 years in service based in the Middle East, and the rest operating out of Faslane. To achieve such a high operational output requires a full team effort, including all the engineering, logistics and administrative support that HMNB Clyde has provided,” said Lieutenant Commander Andrew Platt, its final Commanding Officer.

HMS Shoreham returned to the UK in October last year after more than two years on its latest period of operations in the Gulf, operating out of the UK Naval Support Facility, Bahrain.

The ship’s farewell tour will take it to Shoreham-on-Sea later this week for a four-day visit. Then the minehunter will continue through the Channel and up the East Coast to Rosyth, where she will formally decommission and be prepared for disposal.