THE Prince of Wales spoke of his sadness at the decommissioning of HMS Liverpool as he met her crew in Norway.
Charles went on board the Type 42 destroyer as it paid a visit to Bergen as part of Nato exercise Cold Response.
He spoke to sailors and learned of the role that HMS Liverpool played in the Libya campaign, admitting he had not realised how ‘hairy’ things had been.
Petty Officer Ben Russell, 26, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, who had a conversation with Charles, said: ‘He said that it was sad that we have got to say goodbye to the ship.
‘He asked me what I do on board, and said that we’ve done a good job in keeping such an old ship going.’
The Prince, who was joined by King Harald of Norway as he made the tour of the ship, also said sorry to the crew for making them wait for him in the cold, drizzly weather.
Charles was given a debrief by Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Goulder, who told him of the pivotal role HMS Liverpool had to play while engaged off Libya, working alongside the Norwegian Air Force.
The ship, which is being decommissioned at a ceremony in Portsmouth on March 30, was present for the fall of Tripoli, Misrata and Sirte and was fired upon at least 10 times, the Prince was told.
In a speech to the crew, Charles said: ‘We hadn’t managed to discover back in the UK what you were all up to. It’s taken me some time to discover what you were up to out there and how you were being fired at, and it seems a great deal more hairy than we imagined.’
Charles, wearing an Armed Forces veterans pin, told the crew that he realised from his time in the Navy that plans were subject to change at the last minute and understood how they must have felt to suddenly find themselves deployed off Libya.
He added: ‘You have all done a marvellous job, for longer than you expected.
‘It shows how servicemen and women are expected to do the unexpected at any moment and you always manage to make things work in your remarkable way. I want to congratulate you for everything you have managed to achieve.’
Talking of the imminent decommissioning, Charles said: ‘I hope, after all your time on board, that when the ship leaves at the end of the week, after 30 years of service, that you will all find new boats.
‘I am sure you will all go on to make sure that the Navy is ready for anything, at any time.’
Before leaving, Charles presented Warrant Officer Shaun McCluskey, 48, originally from Durham but now living in Fareham, with a bar to his long service and good conduct medal.
Warrant Officer McCluskey said of his conversation with Charles: ‘He asked me about my 30 years of service and how it was off the coast of Libya.
‘He said he heard it was exciting. I said it was - and quite frightening.’
New Zealander Cameron Ogle, 23, who has spent time serving on board HMS Liverpool, spoke to Charles about Prince William’s time in his home country last year.
He said: “Charles asked when I was going back to New Zealand, and I said that we had Prince William out for a state visit of sorts not that long ago and it was quite a big deal for us.
‘He said that William didn’t have time to visit the navy over there. I told him the Royal Family remains really popular in New Zealand and that it’s always exciting to have a visit. Everyone enjoys it.’