It’s a military coo! Pigeons take over on HMS Diamond

SPECIAL GUEST LS Leigh Branson with one of the birds on the deck of HMS Diamond.
SPECIAL GUEST LS Leigh Branson with one of the birds on the deck of HMS Diamond.
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ONE of the Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art destroyers turned into a makeshift aviary when two racing pigeons made the ship their home.

HMS Diamond was joined by the exhausted racing pigeons – nicknamed Gregory Peck and Sir Henry Cecil by sailors on board – as they sailed off the coast of Plymouth.

Despite numerous attempts to get the pair to fly away, they refused to 
leave.

So the ship’s company, taking a shine to their new feathered friends, built them a perch, a box, and bedding, turning the quarterdeck into a makeshift pigeon sanctuary.

Navigating officer Lieutenant Eleanor Tilley sought approval from her commanding officer before capturing the first bird.

The second arrived on the flight deck two days later.

Lt Tilley said: ‘A ship at sea obviously attracts the occasional bird, but these are usually transient and depart after a short period.

‘Gregory and Cecil were clearly struggling with the journey they had been on and needed help.

‘Having seen them on board for a few days, and knowing the ship was to be at sea for some time, the bridge team felt obliged to give them a little support to aid them on their way.’

Cecil and Gregory were later fitted with an HMS Diamond tag once the ship arrived back in Portsmouth.

With a little encouragement, they flew their steely grey nest, and headed back to their owner.

HMS Diamond’s commanding officer, Commander Andy Ingham, said: ‘They have been fairly unusual additions to the ship’s company on board.

‘However, both of them have been popular with the team and a healthy distraction for some during our recent time at sea.

‘I suspect they were quite sorry to say goodbye to our transient passengers.’

HMS Diamond is the third of the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers.

Five of them are now in service, with the last, HMS Duncan, to be commissioned later this year.

HMS Diamond has already completed a seven-month deployment to the 
Gulf.

All of the six destroyers are based in Portsmouth.