HMS Cornwall returns to Plymouth base for final time

A warship has returned to Plymouth ahead of it being scrapped under multi-million pound government cutbacks.

HMS Cornwall sailed back into its Devonport base after a six-month deployment conducting counter piracy operations near Suez.

About 900 friends and relatives gathered on the quayside as the vessel drew alongside.

A decommissioning ceremony for the Type 22 frigate was due to be held on 30 June, the Royal Navy said.

'First out, last home'

The ship is the sixth Royal Navy vessel to bear the name Cornwall. The name was first used in 1692.

The ship's commanding officer, Commander David Wilkinson - who described HMS Cornwall as "the first out of her batch and the last home" - said her return was "absolutely superb".

He said: "The ship was meant to be driven fast and hard. We've used that throughout all of the counter-piracy patrols.

"On our last day at sea, it was just poignant to do it one more time."

The ship unfurled a decommissioning pennant into the water behind it on its way into port.

The pennant was about 170m (557ft) long, representing the length of the ship and 1m (3.2ft) for each of her 23 years' service.

The vessel is the last of four Devonport warships being scrapped.

The government announced in December that four Type 22 frigates were to be decommissioned under the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

HMS Cornwall hit the headlines four years ago when 15 personnel were captured by Iranian forces in March 2007 as part of a dispute over territorial waters.

They were held for 13 days before being safely released.

The ship also suffered the loss of a crew member earlier this year when a sailor was killed in a road accident in Dubai in February.

He had been on leave when he was hit by a car.

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