Farewell HMS Chatham

14 February 2011, 10:55 | Updated: 1 March 2011, 12:58

The crew of HMS Chatham have marched through her namesake town to mark the end of her service.

Hundreds of people turned out in Chatham town centre to see sailors from HMS Chatham and the Band of the Royal Marines parade through the streets on Saturday.

The frigate is being removed from service because of defence cuts, and was officially decommissioned during a ceremony at the ship's based at HM Naval Base Devonport near Plymouth last week.

Ahead of the farewell parade, HMS Chatham's commanding officer, Commander Simon Huntingdon, said: "Having been granted the Freedom of the Borough of Medway, it is a great privilege to be able to exercise our right to march through Chatham on this final occasion.

"The parade also presents an opportunity for the people of Medway to say goodbye to their ship. HMS Chatham has enjoyed more than 20 years of friendship and support from the local people and I'm certain that many happy memories of this special bond will remain long after the ship has gone.''

HMS Chatham was launched in 1988 and was the last of the four Type 22 frigates. She is 150m long, has a crew of 250, displaces 5,300 tonnes and can spint at speeds of up to 30 knots. The frigate carries anti-air and anti-missile SeaWolf missiles, anti-ship Harpoon missiles, anti-submarine Stingray torpedoes and a Lynx helicopter; she is also fitted with a variety of guns of up to 4.5inch (114mm), advanced radars, sonar, computer systems and communications equipment.

Over the past 20 years, the ship has seen active service globally in conflict, anti-piracy, anti-narcotics and humanitarian operations. She was present at the handover of sovereignty for Hong Kong in 1997 and, more recently, received world-wide recognition for her efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami.

Last year HMS Chatham returned from a seven-month deployment off the coast of Somalia where she was the lead vessel for Operation Ocean Shield, the Nato contribution to counter piracy in the area.