HMS Cumberland's journey to decommissioning

By Adam Flett
BBC News

image captionHMS Cumberland's captain said it was "poignant" to sail away from Gibraltar

Cumbria's adopted warship has set sail on her final voyage before she is de-commissioned later this year.

Two tugs helped pull the HMS Cumberland away from dock in Gibraltar on Tuesday.

Nicknamed "the fighting sausage", the vessel is the latest warship destined to be scrapped as part of the recent defence review.

With Gibraltar receding into the distance, Captain Steve Dainton described it as a "sad occasion".

Deployment began on 30 September, 2010 when HMS Cumberland left the Royal Navy base at Devonport and headed towards the Arabian Gulf.

Here she performed in an anti-piracy and maritime security role.

As a result of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in December 2010, Dr Liam Fox, Conservative defence secretary, announced the scrapping of its four Type 22 frigates.

Due to return for de-commissioning in early 2011, HMS Cumberland's return to the UK was delayed due to the crisis in Libya.

Deployed on non-combat evacuation missions to Benghazi, the ship transported more than 450 people to Malta.

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar joined the crew for part of the return voyage.

He said: "It's historic. I was particularly keen to join the crew at sea to thank them for the tremendous deployment they've had."

Capt Dainton said: "It's a very sad occasion.

"Gibraltar holds a very special place in our hearts as sailors.

"To set sail from here for the last time is poignant."

Lt Commander John Ball, the marine engineering officer on board, was part of the original commissioning team.

He said: "She is quite old and the skill of the people on board keeps her going.

"Many would say that it is old fashioned engineering."

HMS Cumberland is due to arrive at Devonport on Saturday.

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