BLAZING sunshine blessed the crew of HMS Edinburgh as they bid a final farewell to their ship today.
The decommissioning ceremony marked the end of an era for not only the destroyer, but the entire class of Type 42s.
Hundreds of sailors, veterans and their families gathered on the jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base to give the ship a final send-off.
Lady Heseltine, who launched HMS Edinburgh in 1983, inspected the ship’s company, accompanied by her husband, former defence secretary Lord Heseltine.
At the end of the ceremony, the ship’s White Ensign was lowered for the final time.
Commander Nick Borbone is the commanding officer of HMS Edinburgh.
He said: ‘We have experienced a lot of lasts over the last few months – the last time leaving Portsmouth and the last time arriving back – but after today it really does all come to an end as we haul down the White Ensign.
‘It’s very emotional as it has been a huge privilege to command the last of the Type 42s.
‘It is also a day of celebration when we remember the 40 years of faithful service the “Fighting 42s” have given, manned by dedicated men and women, proud to serve in this world-renowned class of ship.’
RAF Typhoon and Hawk aircraft, along with a Sea Fury, performed a flypast before the final lowering of the ensign.
Able Seaman Maria McAvoy, 25, said: ‘It’s a little bit emotional.
‘It was always going to be a little upsetting to say goodbye to such a great ship.
‘HMS Edinburgh is my first ship so I haven’t known anything else.
‘I go into the Type 45 pool now so that’s probably where I’ll be going next.’
Able Seaman Tom Bradshaw, 22, added: ‘I was excited to begin with but the more I’ve thought about it it’s a sad day.
‘I’ve really enjoyed my time on HMS Edinburgh and we’ve had a really busy time in the last couple of years.’
Destroyer’s first captain pays tribute on final day of service
THE first captain to take charge of HMS Edinburgh has praised the achievements of the class of ship.
Captain Martin Ladd took command of the Type 42 in July 1985.
He joined 15 other former captains yesterday at the decommissioning ceremony.
He was captain until September 1986 and said the ship looked as fine yesterday as it did back then.
‘The Type 42s were the cutting edge of technology when they were introduced but with the new carriers being built and modern ships coming in with more effective weapons, technology has advanced and Edinburgh bows out gracefully in the path of those before her.’
The former commanding officers dined on board the ship the night before.
‘The ship didn’t look or feel any different to the day I left her,’ added Capt Ladd.