Montrose Port was honoured to welcome HMS Montrose as her last port of call ahead of her decommissioning in April 2023.
The Type 23 Duke Class Frigate, which has sailed over 400,000 miles since her launch in 1992, visited her affiliated town of Montrose from 11th – 14th March. She was greeted by members of Angus Council, RNLI Montrose and Montrose Port Authority, with members of the public lining the beaches of Montrose and Ferryden to watch her arrival into the town for the very last time.
As part of her farewell visit, the ship lowered her gangway and welcomed over 5,000 visitors on Sunday 12th March for guided tours and a chance to meet the crew.
“I can’t think that there could have been a better final port visit for our ship,” said Commander Claire Thompson OBE RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose. “HMS Montrose has been part of the Royal Navy for over 30 years and for her to end her time here at Montrose has been amazing.
“From the ship open to visitors, which was fully booked, through to sports fixtures, additional tours, and receptions, we have been spoiled by the affection we received from the town of Montrose. I am incredibly grateful for the support.”
During the stop-over, the ship’s company hosted the Lord Lieutenant and Provost of Angus, members of local Sea Cadet units and played against local football and golf teams.
The crew also took the opportunity to lay a wreath at the memorial statue of Bamse, the St Bernard dog who served on the Norwegian coastal patrol ship Thorodd stationed at Montrose during WWII. Bamse is recognised as a local hero in Montrose as well as a symbol of Norwegian freedom.
HMS Montrose had most recently been operating in the Middle East over the last four years as part of Operation Kipion. During that time, Montrose made ten drug busts seizing 16 tonnes of illegal narcotics, seized illegal shipments of missiles and cruise missile engines, and helped safely guide some 130 merchant vessels through potentially dangerous maritime choke points.
She returned from the Gulf in December last year, with Montrose as her namesake town being her final port visit ever, ending her 30-year tenure.
For Paul Linford, a quartermaster and Above Water Tactical specialist on HMS Montrose, the visit was particularly poignant as he is a Montrose native. “My nephew asks quite a lot what it’s like on HMS Montrose,” said Paul, “so it is fantastic to be able to show him first-hand where I work.
“It was also great to catch-up with some of my friends in Montrose and introduce them to those friends I have made in the Royal Navy.
“I’ve wanted to be in the Navy since I was in first year at High School – around 12 years old – so to be able to return to Montrose onboard HMS Montrose has been a privilege. The support which the town has given us has been really quite special.”
A reception and Capability Demonstration was held on the last night of the ship’s visit, hosted by the Naval Regional Commander, Brigadier Andy Muddiman ADC RM, and Commander Claire Thomson OBE, welcoming local dignitaries and the Duke of Montrose onto the ship one last time. The evening ended with a sunset ceremony with the lowering of the Ensign.
This final visit was the sixth time the ship had visited her affiliated town in her 30-year career and marks the end of an era both for the Royal Navy and for the town of Montrose who had very much seen the ship as part of their community.
Currently, Scottish shipyards have orders to build 13 Royal Navy frigates, with five Type 31 vessels – due to replace the Type 23s – being built by Babcock at Rosyth, as well as three Type 26 ships currently under construction at BAE Systems on the Clyde.
In November last year, a £4.2 billion contract was announced for the construction of the remaining five Type 26s, securing some 4,000 jobs throughout the UK supply chain.
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