Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last sight of the Busy Bee at sea as HMS Manchester pays off

THERE’S the very last chance to see HMS Manchester sailing under her own steam under the White Ensign on Thursday.
The venerable destroyer makes her final entry to Portsmouth before decommissioning after 29 years’ service.
The last duty for the Type 42 – currently to be seen on Channel 5 on Mondays in Royal Navy: Caribbean Patrol – is to thank loved ones for their support down the years.
That comes courtesy of a ‘families day’ – basically showing relatives (young and old) of the 260 ship’s company what the ship can do, laying on a bit of a show for them.
The ‘Mighty Manch’/’Busy Bee’ has already said her goodbyes to her namesake city with a service of thanksgiving followed by a (very wet) march through the streets of Manchester (and chance to dry out at a reception in the city hall).

In all the ship has clocked up 858,882 nautical miles since her launch in Barrow back in 1980 and served with distinction through the first Gulf War, providing an umbrella against Iraqi air attacks for the naval task force.
“Although Manchester is decommissioning, it is her people that bring the ship to life and as the ship’s company move on to other units, the spirit of the ‘Mighty Manch’ will live on,” said the destroyer’s final Commanding Officer, Cdr Rex Cox.
“The ship has served the Royal Navy for 30 years and has a fine pedigree that includes seeing active service in the Gulf during Operation Granby; more recently she has been an integral part of counter narcotics operations and hurricane relief in the Caribbean.”
The ship will be formally decommissioned in a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base on February 24. Her paying off is long-planned in line with the arrival of the successor Type 45 destroyers, three of which are now in Royal Navy hands.
Weather permitting, HMS Manchester should be passing Round Tower at 3.35pm on Thursday February 17.
HMS Manchester returns from her final deployment – to the Caribbean – just before Christmas 2010. Picture: LA(Phot) Aaron Hoare
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