Thursday, May 26, 2011

Edinburgh heads south for seven months

HMS Edinburgh is bound for the South Atlantic – at the height of the Austral winter – fresh from the final major overhaul in her proud quarter-century career.
The destroyer left a blustery but bright Portsmouth yesterday and won’t see the shores of the Solent again until the tail end of 2011.
In the intervening six or so months the veteran Type 42 will visit the Cape Verde Islands and West Africa in support of maritime security and counter-drugs/piracy operations (working with Cape Verde has already helped the RN bag £4m drugs courtesy of Edinburgh’s now-retired sister HMS Gloucester last summer).

The bulk of the deployment, however, will be focused on the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, which has become the traditional domain of the 42s in recent years; indeed, it will be the Fortress of the Sea’s duty to relieve HMS York once she reaches the rather bleak surroundings of East Cove Military Port.
This is HMS Edinburgh’s first tour of duty since a trip to the Middle and Far East in 2008 as part of the Orion task group. Since then more than £17m has been spent revamping the ship for the final years of her active life – she’s the very last Type 42 to be refitted, bringing the curtain down on four decades of work in the nation’s dockyards.
Shipwrights fitted new engines, new computers, revamped living spaces and generally spruced up Edinburgh before she returned to sea last September.
In the nine months since emerging from refit the ship and her 240-plus sailors have been tested thoroughly, culminating in Operational Sea Training and live firings of her main armament, Sea Dart missiles, on the ranges off north-west Scotland.
"By sheer distance from the UK, and in the face of a harsh South Atlantic winter, the deployment will present real operational challenges for us all, but this will be balanced by the visits to some wonderfully diverse countries and the opportunity for the Royal Navy to demonstrate its impressive global reach and versatility,” said Cdr Paul Russell, Edinburgh’s Commanding Officer.
“Our families deserve a very special mention and thanks as they have been the very cornerstone of strength for us all throughout a hugely demanding period of regeneration.”?
Once her duties around the Falklands are complete, HMS Edinburgh will edge her way back to Portsmouth, paying visits to South America, the Caribbean and the USA as she does.


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