A salute to 30 years of of sterling naval service

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The Type 42 destroyers – or the Sheffield class – as they are known to many, have had a good innings with the Royal Navy.

The losses of Sheffield and Coventry during the Falklands War will be indelibly etched on the memory, but as well as the heroism of those crews there has been the dogged adherence to duty of those who have served in more peaceful times.

As one of those returning with HMS Edinburgh, the last of the Type 42s to be decommissioned says, ‘They have a great atmosphere, people have always said that’.

And a couple of the sailors who spoke to our reporters at the homecoming yesterday mentioned proudly that they had started and finished on Edinburgh, with another delighted that he had served in the same ship as his father.

It’s this kind of attachment, an almost family-like bond, that has helped the Royal Navy, over the decades and indeed centuries, to excel across the world and to be universally respected for ability, tenacity and dedication, and what’s clear from the testimonies that we report today is that this has been carried on with Edinburgh.

So while her decommissioning is a slight cause for sadness, as these matters always are, it should be more centred on pride that the ship and her company have served so steadfastly since the early 1980s.

The fact that the Type 42s are being superseded by the more technologically advanced Type 45s is also a reason to celebrate. The awesome firepower of Daring, Dauntless, Duncan and their three sisters is such that Portsmouth is arguably the best-defended city in the world at the moment, and is again cause to be proud of the sailors who operate her, and the engineers we have in this city who are capable of producing ships for the navy.

So today we wave farewell to HMS Edinburgh, who markedly deserves the front page tribute today’s paper has given her.

On behalf of sailors, and residents of this area, we thank Edinburgh and her company who have proved worthy servants of Queen and country.