The UK Royal Navy River-class offshore patrol vessel, HMS Clyde (P257) returned to HM Naval Base Portsmouth on Dec. 20 after 12 years on patrol around the Falkland Islands.
Almost as soon as the 40 members of HMS Clyde’s crew had greeted their families, the ship was decommissioned from the Fleet with her service career now at an end. The decommissioning ceremony was attended by about 200 guests including former Commanding Officers and HMS Clyde’s Lady Sponsor, Lady Dunt.
The ship’s final captain has been Lieutenant Commander Richard Skelton, his second spell on the ship, five years after being her Executive Officer.
He said: “HMS Clyde has been a very good ship, so reliable and she’s had to be – the South Atlantic’s not a forgiving place. She was designed for a particular task, to be the Falkland Islands patrol vessel, something which she has done without return to the UK and without major docking for 12 years. The ability to demonstrate Britain’s global reach and to provide support to the islanders is critical to what we do and is precisely what Defence is about.”
Some of the current crew have been with the ship for about nine months, but most for about six months – the standard tour length before handing over to the relief crew.
Having seen about 25 crew handovers over a dozen years, HMS Clyde will now be stripped of personal belongings and prepared for her handover to BAE Systems for the next phase of her life with the Brazillian Navy.
HMS Clyde is being replaced as Falkland Islands patrol vessel by HMS Forth. She is making her way across the Atlantic Ocean and due to be at sea through Christmas and New Year.
After she arrives, she will begin her patrol of the Falkland Islands, offering assistance and reassurance to inhabitants, exploring the outer reaches of the archipelago, and also maintaining a presence in South Georgia as HMS Clyde has done since 2007.
The vessel is the final Portsmouth ship to make her homecoming for Christmas after a busy month in the naval base. On Thursday, the Portsmouth Flotilla welcomed HMS Trent for the first time after construction in Scotland and initial sea trials. She joins the Fishery Protection Squadron which HMS Clyde is leaving.
HMS Clyde was launched on 14 June 2006 in Portsmouth Naval Base by VT Group shipbuilders in Portsmouth, England, and is the fourth vessel of the River class, with a displacement of 2,000 tonnes and a 30 mm Oerlikon KCB gun in place of the 20 mm gun fitted on the earlier Tyne River-class ships.