The commanding officer of HMS Cumberland paid tribute to his crew as the finest during an emotional ceremony marking the ship’s retirement from the Royal Navy today (Thursday 23rd June).
Captain Steve Dainton addressed his ship’s company at the decommissioning ceremony at HM Naval Base, Devonport, Plymouth, where the ship’s bell was rung three times and the Union Flag and Royal Naval White Ensign were lowered for the final time accompanied by music from The Band of HM Royal Marines.
About 100 guests of families and friends from the current and past HMS Cumberland crews were present to hear Captain Dainton reflect on the past and recent glories of the ship including the enforcing a sea blockade off Libya and evacuating people from the country earlier this year.
He said the event was not only a time for reflection on the achievements and service of the ship and her crew but a time to carry the legacy of the crew forward to where ever they served next in the Royal Navy.
He said: “This is a momentous day in the life of HMS Cumberland. It is one of mixed emotions with poignancy and celebration about the long gone and more recent past combined with optimism for the future . It is very sad to see a ship go leave active service earlier than we expected and to see the final lowering of the Royal Navy ensign. But it was privilege to share this event with the friends and families of HMS Cumberland.
“HMS Cumberland has always been remembered as a friendly ship and this made her a ‘family ship’. So it was very fitting to have so many of our families here and friends from her past and present to mark such a significant occasion and say farewell to their ship.
“The families of the ship’s company have been very supportive over the years and I think it is harder for them to cope with us going away than us. I therefore, thank them with all my heart.”
He also wished the crew all success in their careers and suggested they take the spirit of the ship with them where they went and whoever they spoke to. The spirit of the ship came from the crew and covered resolve and determination.
His abiding memories as commanding officer was working with the ‘finest’ crew, but also seeing the relieved and grateful expressions of families evacuated from Libya as they were taken on board from the worsening conflict to safety.
After the ceremony alongside the Type 22 frigate, the ship’s decommissioning cake, made by HMS Raleigh catering school, was ceremonially cut by the sailor who has served for the longest on board (nine years) Able Seaman Hayley Kirby while a glass of bubbly was raised as a toast to the ship and crews. Guests at the ceremony included members of her affiliated area from Cumbria.
The ship’s future has yet to be decided. HMS Cumberland is one of four Type 22 frigates (HMS Cornwall, HMS Campbeltown and HMS Chatham) which are being decommissioned as part of the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review. HMS Cornwall is staging a decommissioning ceremony this summer.