THE Royal Navy’s former HMS Chatham today started a sad exodus of frigates from Portsmouth Harbour.
The former Type 22 frigates Chatham, along with her sister ships Campbeltown and Cumberland, are all leaving Portsmouth for the last time this week, bound for a Turkish scrapyard.
A fourth frigate, Cornwall, will remain until a later date.
The four ships, which were all axed in the government’s 2010 defence cuts, were sold to two different firms for recycling.
Three of the frigates will go to Leyal Ship Recycling, the same firm which is cutting up Ark Royal. The fourth frigate will go to a UK shipbreaker.
Pete Sandeman, of savetheroyalnavy.org, told The News: ‘It was a very sad day for the navy when the Type 22s were scrapped.
‘They had capabilities that the remaining Type 23s don’t have.
‘The navy made the right choice to get rid of them because they are very expensive to run, but it’s the government’s fault for forcing them to do it.
‘If they were being scrapped to make way for new ones, that would be one thing.
‘But we’re not likely to see the next generation of frigates until after 2020, which is a huge gap.’
Chatham is due to leave Portsmouth under tow today at around 2.30pm.
Campbeltown will leave on either Thursday or Friday.
Cumberland may leave next Tuesday.
There is no date yet for the departure of Cornwall.
A spokesman for the MoD said: ‘Following competitions, two contracts have been awarded to recycle the four former Type 22 frigates Cumberland, Campbeltown, Chatham, and Cornwall.
‘A contract for three of the ships, Cumberland, Campbeltown, and Chatham, has been awarded to the Turkish recycling company Leyal Ship Recycling.
‘The contract for the fourth ship, Cornwall, has been awarded to Swansea Drydocks, a UK recycling company based in South Wales.
‘All four ships will be recycled.
‘The sale of all four ships will result in a total receipt to the MoD of just under £3m.’