AFTER an emotional last day at sea, HMS Manchester’s captain and head engineer raised a toast to the ship before shutting her engines down for the last time.
The Type 42 destroyer ended 30 years of service with a fun family day of action in the Solent.
After roaring up her 25,000 horsepower engines for a last 30-knot blow out, Manchester made her final entry into Portsmouth Harbour, where hundreds of well-wishers turned out to wave farewell.
Once at Portsmouth Naval Base, the ship’s captain, Cdr Rex Cox, and marine engineer officer Lt Cdr John Bullock, joined others in raising a glass of bubbly to the ship in the depths of her engine room.
‘It’s quite emotional shutting down the engines for the last time,’ said Lt Cdr Bullock, adding: ‘It’s sad but I feel very proud and privileged to have been part of the ship’s company of such an exceptional ship.’
Cdr Cox said: ‘It’s a very sad moment but although there is sadness we can look back with a lot of pride in this ship.’
Families were invited to join the ship for her last outing.
Chief Petty Officer Craig ‘Cat’ Stephens, 31, showed his seven-year-old son Aaron around the ship.
He said: ‘Lots of people in the navy want to serve in Manchester and I’m very proud that I have. Having families on board was the perfect way to end our time with her.’
The destroyer, which clocked up almost 860,000 miles and served in the Gulf war, returned from seven months of catching drug runners in the Caribbean last December. The deployment was filmed for a TV series currently showing on Channel Five.
She is being retired as part of the navy’s plan to phase out Type 42s with six new £1bn Type 45 destroyers.