Two Royal Navy Hunt-class Mine-hunters have been decommissioned in Portsmouth today.
HMS Quorn and HMS Atherstone have left the fleet after a combined service of 58 years,
Former commanding officers and crew who served on the ships today said goodbye at a special decommissioning service.
Unusually, the media was not allowed to cover the event, which took place behind closed doors.
A few years ago, HMS Atherstone returned home to Portsmouth, at which point her withdrawal from service seemed very unlikely.
This decommissioning has proved somewhat controversial as both ships had been pencilled-in to receive a refit and new engines.
But suddenly, earlier this year, that changed to them being withdrawn from service.
At the time the Royal Navy stressed that no crew members would lose their jobs.
Indeed, it is widely understood that having fewer ships in the hunt class will ease the burden on the crews that serve on them.
There’s speculation, however, that Quorn and Atherstone have fallen victim to the senior services continuing struggles with recruitment, although there has been no official MOD statement on this.
Forces TV was told that by a source inside the dockyard that the decision to decommission these vessels in private was made by a senior admiral.
But whatever the reality, both HMS Quorn and HMS Atherstone served the Royal Navy in operations in Europe and the Middle East and played a leading role in NATO operations in the Baltic and Med.