FALKLANDS veterans have blasted the Ministry of Defence for not letting them know HMS Exeter was leaving Portsmouth to be scrapped.
The decommissioned destroyer was towed out of Portsmouth Harbour on Thursday to be cut up and melted down in Turkey.
It was advertised in shipping movements but the MoD made no official announcement about the sale – which meant almost no-one who had served in the warship knew she was leaving for good.
Reg Cornall, who is president of the Exeter 82 association, said: ‘I’m furious that once again the MoD or navy assumes that they are selling a load of metal scrap without caring about the thousands of people’s feelings who have served on the Exeter.’
Len Brownsword, who served in Exeter during the 1982 conflict, did see the ship go – but only because his daughter found out about it on an online forum.
He said: ‘It’s very sad no-one else knew about it and could come to see the ship off.’
Exeter has been sold along with HMS Nottingham and HMS Southampton to Leyal Ship Recycling. The same firm is currently scrapping the old aircraft carrier HMS Invincible at its Turkish plant.
Southampton and Nottingham are due to leave Portsmouth in the coming weeks.
Exeter was one of the last Falklands vessels left. The only ship remaining now is HMS Bristol which is still in service as a training ship.
Joe Erskine, of the South Atlantic Medals Association, said: ‘We’ve had plenty of notice with other Falklands vessels that have gone for scrap. I don’t understand why this didn’t happen with Exeter. It’s a shame these guys couldn’t say farewell.’
An MoD spokesman said: ‘All Portsmouth shipping movements are published in advance on the website of the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth and via a link on the Visit Portsmouth website.
‘They are also published daily in The News.’