A stalwart warship of the Royal Navy which has seized millions of pounds of drugs as well as cruise missile parts has been decommissioned from the fleet at the end of its nearly 30-year career.
Former crew, family members and representatives from across the navy attended a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base to say farewell to the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose.
Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Martin Connell was guest of honour at the service led by Royal Navy chaplain Tudor Thomas-Botwood.
Commander Claire Thompson, Montrose’s 20th and final commanding officer, said: “It’s been a truly special occasion officially decommissioning this fine ship after 30 years’ service to both her monarchs and her country.
“As the final ship’s company it is with immense pride that we lowered the Ensign today and we did it on behalf of the thousands of men and women who have had the privilege of calling HMS Montrose home.”
Leading engineering technician Anthony Ball, who is Montrose’s final sailor of the year, said: “It’s a shame to see such a good ship come to the end of its Service but I’m proud to have served in her and I’ve had a great time with my shipmates in these three years.”
Based in Plymouth for the vast majority of its career, Montrose was the seventh ship in the class of 16 Duke-class frigates to be laid down in 1989 and the eighth to be commissioned in 1994.
Montrose was sponsored by the late Lady Rifkind, whose husband was defence secretary in the early 1990s, and previous commanding officers have included Vice Admirals Sir Timothy Laurence, the Princess Royal’s husband, and Tony Johnstone-Burt who is Master of the Household for the Royal Households.
A navy spokesman said: “There are few parts of the world the frigate has not seen in her 29-year active life as she clocked up more than 400,000 miles on duties at home and overseas.
“Most recently she has spent four years constantly deployed on operations, almost exclusively in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.
“During that time, Montrose made 10 drug busts seizing 16 tonnes of illegal narcotics, seized illegal shipments of missiles and cruise missile engines, and helped safely guide some 130 merchant vessels through potentially dangerous maritime choke points.”
The spokesman said that the future for the vessel had not yet been decided and added: “As a general-duty frigate she will be replaced by one of the five Type 31 Inspiration-class frigates under construction in Rosyth. The first, HMS Venturer, is due in the water later this year.”