Home Europe Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose bows out of service after...

Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose bows out of service after 30 years

HMS Montrose decommissioning
Photo: Royal Navy

The crew of Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose lowered the White Ensign one last time in a ceremony in Portsmouth on Monday, marking the end of 30 years of service.

At 11.20 am local time, nearly 200 members of her ship’s company turned to face the vessel as the White Ensign was lowered on her flight deck and the frigate passed into history.

Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Martin Connell was guest of honor at a short service, led by Royal Navy chaplain Tudor Thomas-Botwood, celebrating the deeds of Montrose since she joined the Fleet in 1994 and especially all those who served in her.

Commander Claire Thompson, Montrose’s 20th and final commanding officer, said today’s ceremony had been an apt end to her ship’s proud career under the White Ensign.

“It’s been a truly special occasion officially decommissioning this fine ship after 30 years’ service to both her monarchs and her country.

“As the final ship’s company it is with immense pride that we lowered the ensign today and we did it on behalf of the thousands of men and women who have had the privilege of calling HMS Montrose home. “It’s been was an honor to host the Second Sea Lord, the ship’s affiliates, friends and family, and former shipmates during the ceremony and it has been a fitting end to very distinguished service.”

Some crew will stay with Montrose through the decommissioning process as the ship is prepared for disposal – her ultimate fate has yet to be determined – while others will begin dispersing around the rest of the Royal Navy.

Based in Plymouth for the vast majority of her career, Montrose was the seventh ship in the class of 16 Duke-class frigates to be laid down (back in 1989) and the eighth to be commissioned (1994).

Sponsored by the late Lady Rifkind, whose husband was Defence Secretary in the early 1990s, HMS Montrose has been commanded by 20 men and women since Commander John Arrow first took the reins back in 1993.

Among previous commanding officers are Vice Admirals Sir Timothy Laurence, the Princess Royal’s husband, and Tony Johnstone-Burt who is Master of the Household for the Royal Households.

Photo: Royal Navy

The frigate most recently spent four years constantly deployed on operations, almost exclusively in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

During that time, Montrose made ten drug busts seizing 16 tons of illegal narcotics, seized illegal shipments of missiles and cruise missile engines, and helped safely guide some 130 merchant vessels through potentially dangerous maritime choke points.

The ship returned to Devonport in December last year. Since then she has operated around the UK and paid a farewell visit to her namesake town in northeastern Scotland.

As a general-duty frigate she will be replaced by one of the five Type 31 Inspiration-class frigates under construction in Rosyth. The first, HMS Venturer, is due in the water later this year.