THIS WEEK IN 1980: HMS Brecon gets royal send-off

Phillip Hutchings, 17, Brecon's youngest sailor helps Pearl Birkett, the ship's commanding officer's wife, cut the commissioning cake
Phillip Hutchings, 17, Brecon's youngest sailor helps Pearl Birkett, the ship's commanding officer's wife, cut the commissioning cake
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Hazy spring sunshine, clusters of daffodils and a royal guest in primrose yellow, set the festive scene on the quarterdeck of HMS Vernon in Portsmouth for the commissioning of the Royal Navy’s £25m mine countermeasures vessel, HMS Brecon.

The send-off for the world’s largest plastic warship was watched by the families of the 42 officers and men who would take Brecon out for a work-up before she became fully operational from a probable base at Rosyth in Scotland.

Guest of honour at the ceremony was the Duchess of Kent who was presented with a Welsh loving spoon, bearing the ship’s crest, by Brecon’s commanding officer, Jack Birkett, of Cosham.