Frigate’s final call is home

HMS Chatham seen at Northumbrian Quay at North Shields.
HMS Chatham seen at Northumbrian Quay at North Shields.

A SWAN Hunter-built Royal Navy frigate sailed up the Tyne last week to make her final visit to a UK port.

HMS Chatham docked at Northumbrian Quay in North Shields before heading to Devonport in Plymouth to be decommissioned next month.

The ship was laid down at Swan Hunter in 1986 and launched two years later.

She is the last of the four Type 22 frigates.

HMS Chatham has seen active service globally in conflict, anti-piracy, anti-narcotics and humanitarian operations.

She was present at the hand over of sovereignty for Hong Kong in 1997 and more recently received world-wide recognition for her efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Last year HMS Chatham returned from a seven-month deployment off the coast of Somalia, where she was the lead vessel for Operation Ocean Shield, the NATO contribution to counter piracy in the area.

The ship’s commanding officer Commander Simon Huntingdon said: “This short visit will be tinged with sadness as this will be HMS Chatham’s final visit to the Tyne, the place where she was built by Swan Hunter, and the last major event in the ship’s life before she is decommissioned.

“These ships are the longest serving frigates in the Royal Navy and are extremely versatile platforms that have served the nation well.

“A decision has been taken to reduce the number of frigates and destroyers and it follows that we should decommission our older assets.”