Stalwart HMS Montrose decommissioned after 30 years of service

Watch: HMS Montrose's decommissioning ceremony.

After nearly 30 years of service, Royal Navy stalwart HMS Montrose has been decommissioned.

The White Ensign was lowered on the Type 23 frigate for the final time on Monday in Portsmouth.

The ship's company, family members, former commanding officers and VIPs were in attendance for the decommissioning ceremony.

Commander Claire Thompson, Montrose's 20th and final commanding officer, said: "It's been a truly special occasion officially decommissioning this fine ship after 30 years' service to both her monarchs and her country.

"As the final ship's company it is with immense pride that we lowered the Ensign today and we did it on behalf of the thousands of men and women who have had the privilege of calling HMS Montrose home.”

Leading Engineering Technician Anthony Ball, who is Montrose's final sailor of the year, said: "It's a shame to see such a good ship come to the end of its Service but I’m proud to have served in her and I've had a great time with my shipmates in these three years."

Based in Plymouth for the vast majority of its career, Montrose was the seventh ship in the class of 16 Duke-class frigates to be laid down in 1989 and the eighth to be commissioned in 1994.

Montrose was sponsored by the late Lady Rifkind, whose husband was defence secretary in the early 1990s, and previous commanding officers have included Vice Admirals Sir Timothy Laurence, the Princess Royal's husband, and Tony Johnstone-Burt who is Master of the Household for the Royal Households.

Watch: HMS Montrose sets off on her final journey before decommissioning earlier this month.

HMS Montrose – originally designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare in the Cold War – is a multi-purpose frigate that has been on active service around the globe, including most recently spending nearly four years stationed in the Gulf.

The deployment to the Middle East saw the ship conduct patrols to safeguard merchant shipping, tackle criminal and terrorist activity, including arms and drugs smuggling, and working with allies as part of an international security effort.

Montrose stepped down from operational duties just last week and her decommissioning comes two weeks after survey ship HMS Enterprise was also decommissioned in Portsmouth.

The Royal Navy's Type 23s are being replaced by Type 26 and Type 31 frigates.

A Navy spokesman said: "There are few parts of the world the frigate has not seen in her 29-year active life as she clocked up more than 400,000 miles on duties at home and overseas.

"Most recently she has spent four years constantly deployed on operations, almost exclusively in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.

"During that time, Montrose made 10 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."

The spokesman said that the future for the vessel had not yet been decided and added: "As a general-duty frigate she will be replaced by one of the five Type 31 Inspiration-class frigates under construction in Rosyth. The first, HMS Venturer, is due in the water later this year."

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