IT’S been her home for the past 20 years, but now HMS Bristol is set to leave her permanent mooring at the tip of Whale Island.
The Royal Navy’s training ship hasn’t got far to go, however, as she’s heading to a new berth just 460ft away.
The one-of-a-kind Type 82 destroyer, which served in the Falklands War, is being moved out of the way as Portsmouth International Port continues to expand its operations.
Bristol is making way to allow the increasingly large commercial shipping more room to manoeuvre.
At the moment, the 6,300-tonne warship’s bow creates a narrow pinch point for ships coming and going at the port.
Portsmouth City Council has now agreed plans for a new berth to be built to remove the hazard.
This will allow for vessels up to 780ft in length to safely berth at port and coincides with an intensive dredging programme to enable ships to visit at a wider range of tides.
Bristol has 17,000 visitors a year and is a favourite with sea cadets and naval recruits.
Construction of the new berth has to fit around the navy’s busy training schedule, so work will start towards the end of November and needs to be completed by February when visitors will return aboard Bristol.
Port manager Martin Putman said: ‘We have been working closely with the Royal Navy to create a lot more space in the harbour whilst minimising impact on the important training and support role provided by HMS Bristol
‘As commercial vessels continue to grow in size we are helping to develop our strategy for the future of the Port.
‘This will maintain jobs and keeps investment coming into the city and local area.’
Commander Paul Jones, who is commanding officer of HMS Excellent, the navy’s headquarters on Whale Island, said: ‘Whale Island has strong working links with its neighbours and I am pleased that a happy compromise has been reached that benefits both the Royal Navy and the commercial activity of our home city.’
HMS Bristol moved to Whale Island in 1991 after 18 years in service.
The only time she has moved from her berth was in 2010 when she was towed to Tyneside for £4m refit.