On Monday the 17th April we were honoured to be VIP guests at HMS MONTROSE’s decommissioning ceremony in Portsmouth, to mark the end of her time as an operational warship as she leaves The Fleet.
Thankfully, with better weather than the affiliates’ day the previous week, a team consisting of PM David Raines, PM Allan Cheeseman, Steward Matt Gammell, Honorary Steward Steve Wilson, Liverymen Simon Collins, Jonathan Orr-Ewing, Tasmin Little, Adam Wallis, Chris Nadin, Helen Chesshire, Killian O’Sullivan, Murray Craig and Russell Mellor, ably led again by IPM Chris Porter.
Having battled our way through base security we were immediately impressed as we walked past the Ship’s Company forming up on parade and the wonderful Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines warming up (musically!) on the jetty.
Before taking our seats, we were met by previous Commanding Officers of MONTROSE, of note Captain Connor O’Neil and Rear Admiral (our very own Steward of course) James Parkin. We also had the opportunity to mingle with some very senior Naval Officers as well as Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, also a previous Commanding Officer, and Sir Malcom Rifkind, whose late wife was the Lady sponsor when MONTROSE was launched.
Having taken our seats, we were treated to witnessing the Ship’s Company march on to the jetty alongside the Ship, to the sound of the wonderful Royal Marines Band, and form up directly in front of us – we could not have had better seats!
The formal ceremony then progressed with the keynote speech being from Vice Admiral Martin Connell, Second Sea Lord, who rightly reflected on MONTROSE’s achievements over her career but specifically during her period of four years forward deployed. A poignant moment of the ceremony was the final lowering of MONTROSE’s white ensign, the sign that she has finally decommissioned and is no longer part of the Fleet. Having been lowered on board (you can see it flying at the stern in the photo above) it was folded and then carried the length of the ship, onto the jetty and to the dais where it was presented to the final Commanding Officer, Commander Claire Thompson OBE Royal Navy. In a very touching move, it was then presented to Sir Malcom Rifkind which he was not expecting and was visibly moved by this gesture.
The final part of the ceremony saw the band and ship’s company march off before enjoying a well-earned buffet lunch followed by an evening party, which was well deserved after all of their hard work.
Before leaving we took the opportunity to present the Commanding Officer with a bottle of MONTROSE Gin which Steward Matt Gammell presented along with IPM Chris Porter.
We have many happy memories of our affiliation with HMS MONTROSE and have been privileged to be part of her final act as a commissioned warship in the Royal Navy. Our next warship affiliation will be the brand new (yet to be built) Type 31 frigate, HMS CAMBELTOWN, and we will have the honour of supporting her as she has her steel cut, is built, then undergoes sea trials in the coming years. There will be plenty of opportunities for the Livery to interact so look out for future announcements.