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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
HMS Cardiff's final visit to city
HMS Cardiff heading into port
The public will be welcomed on board during the ship's last stay
The Royal Navy's longest serving warship, HMS Cardiff, has made its final trip to its namesake city before being decommissioned.

The Type 42 destroyer, which weighs 3,500 tonnes and is 125m (410ft) long, has been on duty for 26 years.

Commissioned in 1979, HMS Cardiff, has seen active service in the Falklands, the first Gulf war and the build-up to the second Gulf conflict.

Calls have been made for the ship to be given a permanent home in the city.

HMS This will be a joyous visit that allows us to celebrate our many lasting friendships
HMS Cardiff's commander, Mike Beardall

Former Navy servicemen in Cardiff want the warship to be docked permanently in Cardiff as a tourist attraction.

HMS Cardiff will be decommissioned on 14 July in Portsmouth, marking the end of an era stretching back hundreds of years for ships bearing the name of the Welsh capital.

It is understood that the vessel will remain in Portsmouth harbour until a decision is reached about her future.

She has sailed around the world and been in frontline action in the Falklands, Adriatic and the Gulf, as well as playing a part in peaceful missions in the Caribbean and Bahamas.

James Owen
James Owen has had good and bad experiences while serving

Most recently she embarked on a four-month operational deployment in the Mediterranean.

She has also performed a valuable role in countering human trafficking and smuggling as well as being a goodwill ambassador to numerous international ports including Gibraltar, Marseilles, Barcelona, Crete and Rota.

Crew member James Owen, from Neath, said: "The best (experience) was probably in Rio on the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the famous Copa Cabana beach.

"But then you get the bad experiences of being in Sierra Leone and the Falkland Islands."

Steve Gilboy
Steve Gilboy was proud to have been aboard on the ship's last visit

HMS Cardiff and her crew, have been granted the freedom of the city as part of the ship's final visit.

As part of the celebrations, the ship's company will march through Cardiff on Saturday.

Commander Mike Beardall, HMS Cardiff's commanding officer, said: "This will be a joyous visit that allows us to celebrate our many lasting friendships and affiliations that we have been proud to maintain with the people of the city over the last 26 years of our operational service life."

Steven Gilboy, a crew member from St Athan near Barry, said: "It's good to tell your mates when we go home that I was on HMS Cardiff when it came into its last visit in Cardiff."

HMS Cardiff will be berthed at Britannia Quay during her week-long stay.

In pictures: HMS Cardiff
07 Jul 03 |  Photo Gallery
Warship tour for school children
07 Jul 03 |  South East Wales

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