Fifteen years after they formed the vanguard of the Royal Navy’s minehunting mission in the Gulf, Her Majesty’s Ships Ramsey and Blyth have passed into history.
The two sister ships were decommissioned in Rosyth during a service marking their long service around the globe.
Both Sandown-class mine countermeasures vessels have served extensively during careers spanning 21 years and 175,000 miles for Ramsey, 185,000 miles over 20 years for Blyth, supporting operations in the Middle East, around the UK or on NATO duties in northern European and Mediterranean waters.
Dozens of affiliates and friends joined the crews, RN leaders and Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet Reverend Martin Evans, with music provided by the Band of HM Royal Marines Plymouth.
HMS Ramsey left her home port at Faslane for the final time in August last year, sailing to Rosyth where she has undergone work to prepare her for formal decommissioning. Blyth passed down Gareloch for the last time a month ago.
The two ships were the first sent to Bahrain when the government decided a permanent minehunter presence was required in the Gulf – a presence which continues to this day.
Ramsey’s final Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Joel Roberts praised “a great ship”.
He continued: “HMS Ramsey has given 21 years of operational service to the Royal Navy and throughout her life it has been the members of her ship’s company, the people, who have made her what she is.
“It is time to say farewell to a ship that has been both a home and a way of life to so many.
“She will undoubtedly be missed, but rather than being sad, today is about remembering her duty and celebrating her 21 years of distinguished service.”
Blyth and her crew worked right up to the end, most recently in the Middle East, as well as a deployed period in the Baltic and national tasking along the UK coast.
Her Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Simon Henderson said: “The whole crew are immensely proud of what this ship has achieved in her lifetime and particularly over the last few years.
“Our final entry into Rosyth was a sad one bringing to an end the ship’s life under Royal Navy Command, but we reflect on the many achievements that we have accomplished together, and we look forward to new opportunities to come.”
Among the VIP guests was 12-year-old Bella Brown from Kilcreggan, christened onboard HMS Ramsey in 2010 in the traditional naval manner using the ship’s bell as a font.
Her name will now be engraved on the bell which will be presented to the Isle of Man town of Ramsey – the ship’s affiliate – for public display.
Bella said: “I have been lucky enough to visit HMS Ramsey recently and to regularly see her operating in the Clyde and I am sad to see her decommissioning. I hope the ship will go on to similar happiness and success in the future.”
The ships are being replaced by the expanding Project Wilton drive to introduce autonomous/uncrewed boats and systems into minehunting – an initiative being pioneered at Faslane where three boats are already in service.
Blyth and Ramsey meanwhile will enjoy a fresh lease of life in the Black Sea. Once further work is completed on the two vessels, they’ll be transferred to the Ukrainian Navy.
Meanwhile following summer leave, Blyth’s crew will take charge of HMS Grimsby for another period of operations later in the year.