Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Royal Navy destroyer's era ends

HMS Southampton
HMS Southampton is the second oldest Type 42 Navy destroyer

The end of the illustrious 28-year career of the second oldest Type 42 Royal Navy destroyer will be marked with a ceremony.

HMS Southampton, which has clocked up almost 700,000 nautical miles on operations across the globe, will be decommissioned on Thursday.

The Navy is replacing its old Type 42s with Daring class Type 45 destroyers.

Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope will be among the guests at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The service will be conducted by the Reverend Scott Brown, Principal Church of Scotland and Free Churches Chaplain, with musical accompaniment from The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, Portsmouth.

Falklands Islands conflict

Guest of honour, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Mrs Mary Fagan, is expected cut the decommissioning cake.

HMS Southampton - the sixth ship to bear the name - was built at Vosper Thornycroft in its namesake city and launched on 29 January in 1979.

The vessel was commissioned into service on 31 October 1981, but its initial trials period was cut short by the Falklands Islands conflict.

The war ship sailed to the region in June 1982 - a few days after the Argentine surrender - to lead the first of the peacekeepers.

In 1995, it was on hand to help evacuate the population of Montserrat, when the Chances Peak volcano erupted, threatening the Caribbean island.

In February 2006, HMS Southampton hit the national headlines when it was used to help seize a huge drugs cache off the coast of Miami.

Together with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Grey Rover, it intercepted a vessel carrying cocaine with a street value of 350m.

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