A FEW hardy souls gathered in the rain to say goodbye to a Royal Navy icebreaker as she sailed out of Portsmouth for the last time.
HMS Endurance left the port this afternoon under grey skies.
The ice patrol ship has been scrapped and was making its way to the Leyal Ship Recycling centre in Turkey – the same scrapyard that bought the Ark Royal aircraft carrier.
The outbursts of rain did not put off a small crowd, who lined the shore to see her off.
Among them was Ned Needham, who served as a chief petty officer on board HMS Endurance from 2005 until 2008.
The 42-year-old, from North End, was at the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth with his wife Julia, and their two daughters Emily, seven, and Olivia, five.
He said: ‘It was a very special ship, what we were doing was completely different to anything else in the Royal Navy.
‘And there was a very good ship’s company. We were very close knit, a close team that had good times.’
Endurance served from 1991 until 2008. She started life as MV Polar Circle, built in Norway in 1990 for Rieber Shipping.
Then, in 1991, the icebreaker was loaned for eight months to the Royal Navy before being bought outright by the Senior Service and renamed HMS Endurance in October 1992.
Endurance played a key role in providing a British presence in Polar waters, performing hydrographic surveys and supporting the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica.
In 2005, Endurance hosted the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during the International Fleet Review as part of the Trafalgar 200 celebrations in Portsmouth.
Also at the Round Tower yesterday were grandfather and granddaughter Ray Wither and Angel Wright, six, from Havant.
Ray has taken up photography as a hobby in his retirement.
It is part of British naval history that is going in a blink of an eye.Brian Gunn, from Hayling Island
He said: ‘It is a sad occasion as it is part of the history of the fleet.’
Also taking in the sight was Brian Gunn, who had come from Hayling Island to see her off.
He said: ‘It is very sad. It is an end of a ship that has been in service for many years. In some ways it is an unhappy ending.
‘Perhaps it could have been used for something better that what it is going to.
‘It makes you think about all the millions of pounds that have been spent and perhaps wasted over the years.
‘It is part of British naval history that is going in a blink of an eye.’