A POIGNANT symbol of the victims of war which was salvaged from the wreckage of Falklands casualty HMS Coventry will sail in the Royal Navy’s newest warship.
HMS Diamond was formally inducted into the navy yesterday in the first commissioning ceremony since last year’s defence cuts.
The Type 45 destroyer which is affiliated with the city of Coventry, was presented with a cross of nails created from the remains of Coventry Cathedral after it was bombed during the Second World War.
The cross was originally given to HMS Coventry and sank with her after Argentine aircraft attacked on May 25, 1982, killing 19 men.
It was later recovered by divers sent to the shipwreck.
Captain David Hart-Dyke, who was Coventry’s commanding officer during the Falklands, handed the cross over to Diamond yesterday.
He said: ‘It’s a big moment for Diamond. If they ever find themselves in a difficult fighting situation in the future they will always be aware of their predecessors and the story of HMS Coventry. It’s a strong link to have.
‘It’s about tradition and keeping up the standards we are very proud of in the navy.’
Hundreds of friends and families of Diamond’s crew watched the commissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base, which was led by music from the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth.
Able Seaman Daniel Fox, 21, who is a chef on the ship, said: ‘This is a very proud day. It’s great that we are getting ready to be in service and I can’t wait to get fighting on the front line.’
The ceremony, which was attended by the ship’s sponsor Lady Johns and the navy’s second-in-command, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, concluded with a traditional cake cutting involving the captain’s wife and the youngest sailor on board.
Ross Hindmarch, 17, who is a marine engineering technician, said: ‘It’s a great honour. It’s a strange thing to do but I’m the youngest on board so it fell to me.’
Diamond was built by BAE Systems and is the third of six new Type 45 destroyers based in Portsmouth.
She has been undergoing operational sea trials since she arrived from Scotland in September and the commissioning marks her transition into a fully-fledged warship.
Diamond’s captain, Commander Ian Clarke is looking ahead to the warship’s first deployment next year.
He said: ‘Since September we’ve been undertaking sea trials, all of which have gone well, and we’re into our final weeks of that now.
‘This ceremony marks the ship’s in-service date later this year and we’ll spend the rest of the year moving towards combat training in 2012.’
The £1bn destroyers are billed as the most-advanced warships in the world and have been likened to the naval equivalent of the Bugatti Veyron supercar.
Cdr Clarke said: ‘It’s a great privilege to be captain of any ship, but to be a captain of a Type 45 is fantastic. This ship is a massive step up, it just doesn’t compare. The step change in terms of warfare is just huge.’
The fourth Type 45, HMS Dragon, is due to arrive in Portsmouth for the first time in September.