Edinburgh makes an emotional final entry to Portsmouth ending 40-years of RN history

A Type 42 destroyer sailed into harbour for the last time under its own steam today as HMS Edinburgh entered Portsmouth for the final time. The veteran warship was treated to a 21-gun salute, fly past and cheering crowds as she completed her UK tour and came home ready for decommissioning next week.

With the thunder of a 21-gun salute reverberating around Portsmouth’s harbour entrance, HMS Edinburgh entered her home port for the last time. 

A barrage of camera clicks, cheers, waves and the flying of the obligatory White Ensigns and Union Jacks from Round Tower and ancient ramparts greeted the venerable warship on a glorious spring morning.

With her long, thin decommissioning pennant trailing into the Solent, Edinburgh’s entry brought a 40-year chapter in the proud history of the Royal Navy to an end.

The salute from Fort Blockhouse –acknowledged in kind by Edinburgh’s saluting gun which left a swirl of smoke drifting down the destroyer’s port beam – almost drowned out the bagpipe skirl of Scotland the Brave performed on the ship.

It did not drown out the drone from the Fortress of the Sea’s Lynx, darting around overhead, nor the graceful purr of the magnificent Sea Fury, the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s vintage fighter which performed barrel rolls in the clear blue sky over Edinburgh as she passed Spice Island.

After the old, the new. A few yards behind Edinburgh, with her upper decks manned like the Type 42’s for Procedure Alpha, HMS Defender, one of the new Type 45 destroyers which picks up the air defence baton from her forebears.

All 260 souls aboard Edinburgh are fully aware that her passing marks the end of an era.

“Most people on board are proud to serve on a 42. Everyone wanted to be on the upper deck on the last day as we went past the Round Tower,” said LET(ME) Goldie Gouldin, whose first ship was Edinburgh back in 2001.

Fellow stoker PO ‘Darbz’ Allen, who’s served in Birmingham, York, Exeter, Glasgow and now Edinburgh, added:

“I love these ships and I will miss them.

“They are brilliant ships with a great bunch of people.

"They have stood the test of time.

"They have proved themselves in the Falklands, in the Gulf, all over the world.”

Among the public gathered to watch the historic final entry, former radar senior rating Steve James from Whiteley, near Fareham.

He left the RN nearly a decade ago having served in five Type 42s, including two drafts on Edinburgh. He met his wife Julie serving in HMS Manchester and the couple’s son, Will, was christened aboard the Busy Bee; his name is inscribed on the ship’s bell.

“There was a good family feeling on board a Type 42,” he said.

“Everyone looked after each other.

"And whichever ship you served in, you knew your way around and you always knew someone on board. I had good times on them.”

The ceremonial entry begins a busy – and emotional – final week in the active life of Edinburgh, which has sailed 800,000 miles under the White Ensign.

The public have a final chance to step on board a Type 42 tomorrow and Sunday (June 1 and 2) as Edinburgh opens to visitors free of charge at Portsmouth Naval Base between 10am and 4pm.

And her White Ensign will be lowered for the final time during a decommissioning ceremony at the Naval Base on June 6, attended not just by friends and family of the current ship’s company, but former Edinburgers and also many in the strong former Type 42 community.

I love these ships and I will miss them

PO ‘Darbz’ Allen