THE fate of four frigates left rusting in Portsmouth Harbour has finally been decided.
The Type 22 ships HMS Cumberland, HMS Cornwall, HMS Chatham and HMS Campbeltown were all axed in the coalition government’s 2010 defence cuts.
As reported in The News in January, the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment and Support agency was deciding whether to sell the ships for scrap or to sink them to make an artificial reef to promote marine life.
Yesterday the MoD revealed Cumberland, Campbeltown and Chatham were sold to the Turkish recycling company Leyal Ship Recycling, while Cornwall has been awarded to Swansea Drydocks, a UK recycling company based in South West Wales.
A spokeswoman for the MoD said: ‘Following the decision in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review to decommission the Type 22 frigates, the MoD has agreed to sell the four ships to two companies.
‘All four vessels, Cumberland, Campbeltown, Chatham and Cornwall will be recycled under contracts worth approximately £3m in total.’
The 5,300-tonne ships have, for the past three years, been moored in the area of Portsmouth Harbour known as Rotten Row, where decommissioned ships are put out to pasture.
The government’s Disposal Services Authority, which deals with the interest in the warships, said in January that it would award at least one vessel to a UK ship recycler.
It is hoped this move could boost knowledge of the country’s ability to recycle vessels.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, a navy reservist who sits on the defence select committee, said she backed the ideas.
She said: ‘People get quite sentimental about our ships and we like to think they will go on to do something that befits their long service. But you have to get good value.’
Commissioned in the late 1980s, the frigates were originally designed as a specialist anti-submarine platform but evolved into powerful surface ships armed with anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft weapons systems.
They were particularly useful in the Mediterranean because of their listening and surveillance equipment.