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Falklands ship begins final journey

Doomed warship HMS Plymouth leaves home on its final journey today to be scrapped in a foreign port.

The Royal Navy frigate where the Argentinians formally surrendered their garrison after invading South Georgia during the Falklands War, could not be saved despite a quarter century long fight since it was decommissioned in 1988.

Today she sailed on the morning tide on the river Mersey, leaving her berth for the open seas and thought to be heading for a port in Turkey where she will be scrapped.

Campaigners had raised money to launch a legal action to have the ship "arrested" and prevent the ship leaving.

But Peel Ports, who own Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead where she has languished rusting and unloved for years, said they had no "practical choice" but to scrap the vessel.

A spokeswoman for Peel Ports would not say today where the ship was heading but the firm will issue a statement later.

The 2,150 ton vessel, the last Rothesay class type 12 Frigate afloat, was launched on July 20, 1959 at Devonport Dockyard by Nancy, Viscount Astor and after sea trials and fitting out, commissioned into the Royal Navy on May 11, 1961.

She served in the Far East before participating in the Falklands War in 1982, sailing to South Georgia with Royal Marines and SAS aboard.

After engaging the enemy the ship provided naval gunfire support, and the Argentinian garrison at Grytviken then surrendered, Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Astiz signing the surrender document in the wardroom of HMS Plymouth.

The ship went on to provide cover for the aircraft carriers and amphibious vessels and was the first vessel to enter San Carlos Water where she was attacked and damaged herself by five Mirage fighter jets.

After returning to Rosyth for repairs in July 1982, she had steamed 34,000 miles, fired over nine hundred 4.5 inch shells and destroyed five enemy aircraft.

Peel Ports said the Historic Warships Preservation Trust rented a berth for HMS Plymouth in 1990 within the East Float, Birkenhead from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company but when the Trust went into liquidation in 2006, HMS Plymouth became, by default, their legal responsibility.

Peel said they understood Plymouth city council attempted to acquire the vessel and display her in the city's docks in 2007 but this was abandoned when no suitable berth could be found.

The firm said they are "very sympathetic to the historical significance of the vessel" but that no public or private body has come forward with a feasible plan to maintain, restore or remove her during the past seven years.

Peel said they have been left with "no practical choice but to dispose of her responsibly".


From Belfast Telegraph