By Lucy Ashton
HMS Shoreham has departed Clyde Naval Base – her home for the past two decade – for the last time, beginning a short ‘goodbye tour’ of the UK.
The minehunter was escorted out of Gareloch and into the Clyde by Royal Marines craft and the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron, while Naval Base Commander Robert Anstey joined the Sandown-class vessel and tugs blasted jets of water in appreciation from fire hoses – a traditional naval send-off.
Equipped with 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 dealing with devices placed in deep waters, thanks to a sonar which detaches from the hull and can be lowered.
Launched at the Vosper Thornycroft yard in Southampton in 2001, she was commissioned the following year in her namesake Sussex town – the fifth Royal Navy vessel to bear its name.
In her 20 years of active service the minehunter has alternated her 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 – enough to take her around the world five and a half times – and visited more than 30 ports at home and abroad while serving under the White Ensign.
“It has been a tremendous journey for HMS Shoreham,” said Lieutenant Commander Andrew Platt, her final Commanding Officer.
“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.”
Shoreham most recently returned to the UK in October last year after more than two years on her latest period of operations in the Gulf, operating out of the UK Naval Support Facility, Bahrain.
“Having deployed with HMS Shoreham before bringing her back to Faslane last year was really special,” said diver Able Seaman Morgan Hudson-Ryder. “The west coast of Scotland is such a stunning place to operate in, and I feel privileged to be with the ship as she sailed from here for the last time.”
Her farewell tour takes her to Shoreham-on-Sea later this week for a four-day visit, when the 40-strong crew will take part in a final parade through the town before they return the Freedom of the Borough scroll bestowed on the ship in 2011.
Then the ship continues through the Channel and up the East Coast to Rosyth, where she will formally decommission later this year.