Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 15:25 UK

Last Falklands ship bids farewell

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Former crewmen of HMS Exeter bid her farewell

The last remaining operational warship that took part in the Falklands Conflict has been decommissioned.

After clocking up 892,811 nautical miles on operations around the world, HMS Exeter's 29-year career ended at a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base.

Falklands veterans and 10 of the ship's former commanding officers were among the 325 guests who saw the ship off.

During the ceremony, the Type 42 destroyer's white ensign was lowered for the last time.

The ceremony, which had to be held indoors because of heavy wind and rain, featured a decommissioning cake being served.

'Marketed for disposal'

The Royal Navy said it was still unclear what would happen to the decommissioned vessel.

"All her moveable equipment will be taken off for use on other ships," a spokesperson said.

"She will then be marketed for disposal to see if anyone is interested in buying her."

BBC News understands that the most likely outcome is that the ship may be sold to a "recycling facility" and broken up.

The Portsmouth-based ship, built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders on the River Tyne, was launched in 1978 and entered service in September 1980.

During the Falklands conflict, it destroyed four Argentine aircraft - two Skyhawks and two reconnaissance planes.

The vessel was sent to the region from the Caribbean to replace HMS Sheffield, the first major British vessel to be sunk during the conflict. It also saw service in the Gulf War of 1991.

Ageing Type 42 destroyers, like HMS Exeter, are being replaced by the Navy with Type 45 Daring class warships.

Most of HMS Exeter's company have already been transferred to other posts, including to HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless.



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