A KEY piece of the Capital’s maritime history is to be lost after the Royal Navy announced the sale of HMS Edinburgh.
The Ministry of Defence’s Disposal Services Authority has put the ship known as the “Fortress of the Sea” and another Type 42 destroyer, HMS York, up for sale on its website.
There has been a naval vessel carrying the Capital’s name since the 1700s and its crew have regularly visited the region for parades and other events over the years.
The MoD said it was planning to sell the two vessels to another government, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh suggested as potential buyers.
Experts estimated the destroyer could fetch up to £20 million.
The ships are being sold as part of the Government’s Strategic Defence Review announced in 2010, which will see the navy’s surface fleet cut from 23 to 19 ships.
While the MoD said that HMS Edinburgh’s illustrious name would merely be mothballed until a ship of similar stature was again launched by the Royal Navy, it said it was impossible to say when – if ever – that would be.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “The long-serving Type 42 Destroyers are currently being replaced by the Type 45 Destroyers.
“Although still in service, HMS York and Edinburgh are currently being marketed for government-to-government sale. Selling assets in this way strengthens international relationships and generates income that can then be reinvested in defence.
“There are currently no plans to use the names York or Edinburgh for a new Royal Navy vessel.”
Jon Rosamond, of military journal Jane’s Defence, said the name may now be entirely lost.
He said: “All the new Type 45 Destroyers have been given names such as Daring and Dauntless, and this twinned with the downsizing of the navy means it is very likely that, sadly, these old Type 42 names relating to British cities will never see the light of day again. If they do ever resurface I fear it will be a very, very long time away.”
In January 2003, HMS Edinburgh deployed to the Persian Gulf and subsequently took part in the second Gulf War against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
A major refit in 2010 upgraded HMS Edinburgh’s weapon systems and communications to keep the vessel in service until 2013.
When asked how much he expected HMS Edinburgh to fetch on the open market and who may be interested, Mr Rosamond said: “She is almost 30 years old with 1970s technology so you would expect somewhere between £10m and £20m, depending on what kit is included.
“The Philippines are buying a lot of second-hand vessels of that size at the moment, possibly even Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.”
After completing what was the last firing of the Royal Navy’s long-standing shield against air attack last April, the 5200-tonne warship returned to combating smugglers and pirates in a range of hostile locations around the globe.
Last month the News revealed how a Royal Navy training ship is to be relocated to the Capital in a bid to encourage more students to sign up for a life on the ocean waves.
HMS Archer, a training vessel for university students, will be relocated to Edinburgh on September 28 after spending the last 20 years in Aberdeen and will be renamed the East of Scotland University Royal Naval Unit.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? A PROUD NAVAL HISTORY
There have been five previous warships to carry the name Edinburgh, the first in 1707 being a fifth-rate warship carrying only 32 guns. She was sunk in 1709.
The second was the 40-year-old Warspite which in 1715 was rebuilt and renamed Edinburgh. She had a long and distinguished career culminating in the award of battle honours “Ushant 1747” and “Cape Francois 1757”. She was broken up in 1771.
The third Edinburgh was a third rate of 70 guns, launched in 1811. She gained battle honours against the Egyptians and in the war against the Russians. She was sold in 1865.
In 1882, a steel-plated turret ship of 9150 tons was launched to become the fourth Edinburgh. She was the first battleship to carry breech-loading guns and was heavily armoured. She was sold in 1910.
The fifth, and most famous, warship to bear the name was the cruiser built in 1939 which played a major part in the sinking of the Bismarck. In 1942, on convoy duty to Murmansk in the Soviet Union, she was torpedoed by the German U-boat U456 and sank, with the loss of 57 men and her cargo of £5 million in gold bullion. In 1981 the ship was again in the news when the gold, then worth £45 million, was salvaged.
The sixth and most recent, HMS Edinburgh, was launched on April 14, 1983.