A WARSHIP that has helped to protect Britain’s maritime borders has been retired after 14 years of service.
HMS Severn was formally decommissioned at a ceremony in Portsmouth Naval Base.
Current and former members of the 1,700-tonne patrol ship’s crew were there to bid her farewell, along with members of the Royal Marines Band.
And for the vessel’s final captain, Lieutenant Commander Hugh Harris, it was a day of mixed emotions.
The 34-year-old of Portsmouth is the Severn’s 13th commanding officer.
He said: ‘I’m absolutely bursting with pride. I think every single one of the ship’s company stood that little bit taller on the parade square today.’
HMS Severn was the second River-class patrol ship built. She will be replaced by the second, larger batch of five River-class ships.
Primarily employed on fishery protection duties, Severn has been based mostly in English and Welsh waters for her 14 years.
But she has also served overseas, having taken on defence engagement roles in the Caribbean.
And in 2015, Severn seized 2.4 tonnes of cocaine – worth an estimated £350m – in a major drugs bust off the English coast.
Earlier this year she was part of the response team deployed to escort Russian warships through the Channel.
‘She has worked so hard over the last 14 years,’ said Lt Cdr Harris, who has been announced as the first captain of HMS Medway – the navy’s newest patrol ship.
‘She has done 320 days of every year at sea which is a huge achievement for any ship. So to have her in the state that she is in today, having achieved all of that, is phenomenal.’
During Severn’s career she has steamed 604,500 nautical miles – equivalent of three times to the moon or 28 times around the globe.
Her fate has not yet been decided. She could be sold off to other foreign navies and UK departments or scrapped.
But Lt Cdr Harris is confident that, whatever happens to Severn, her replacement will be more than up to the task of filling her role.
He said: ‘While the batch ones are good ships, the batch twos really are a step up; the new capability of the flight deck, the larger sea boats, the more capable weapons system on the front, the upgraded sensors and the fact they’re larger ships that are more easily deployable on a global scale really gives the navy a massive capability that it just doesn’t have at the moment.’