Mixed emotions as HMS Blyth makes its final visit to Blyth
There was a mixture of heart-felt celebrations and sadness as HMS Blyth visited its home town for the last time.
The minesweeper made its first port visit to thw ship’s affiliated town since 2016 but unfortunately it is also the last time as she is due to be decommissioned alongside HMS Ramsey later in the year.
HMS Blyth sailed into the port of Blyth alongside Gun Cow Quay last Friday, leaving on July 26.
To mark the historic occasion, the entire ship’s company were in full ceremonial dress and stood to attention as the ship made her final approach against a fantastic backdrop of the town’s infamous wind turbine and in glorious sunshine.
The ship gathered quite the interest from the locals but due to existing Covid restrictions, the ship was unable to open up to the public.
Once alongside the Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Peter Ellison RN, welcomed the Town Mayor Coun Margaret Richardson on the jetty and exchanged tokens of gratitude in honour of the visit.
Later that evening, a small reception was held on the upper deck for the Naval Regional Commander for North England and Isle of Man, Cdre Phil Waterhouse ADC RN, to host local dignitaries and welcome the ship into the region.
Attendees included Coun Richardson, Council members and Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy.
Blyth Town Council took part in several visits and events to mark the occasion including the presentation of a painting of the ship from the Town Council by artist Gail Armstrong who in return received a ship’s plaque.
There were also a number of guided tours of the vessel with invited community representatives from Blyth.
Coun Richardson, Mayoress Kath Nisbet and Town Clerk Joe Hughes represented the council on a guided tour of the upper deck where they found out about firefighting onboard, diving operations and the ship’s weapon systems.
Also present on the tour were Peter Malone, President of the Blyth Rotary Club, Junior Vice Shad Saleem, Claire Young, Chair of Blyth Community Volunteers and Astrid Adams, Secretary of Friends of Blyth Tall Ships.
Mayor Richardson said: “Blyth has a proud connection with the Royal Navy and we are both delighted and somewhat sad that HMS Blyth visited us before she decommissions.
"I do hope that our nautical heritage will be renewed at some point in the future with the third HMS Blyth.”
As HMS Blyth left on Monday on her national tasking, a large crowd waved her off the jetty and out of the harbour mouth for the last time.
HMS Blyth is the second Royal Navy ship to bear the name. The previous Blyth was a Bangor-class minesweeper that was launched in 1940 and served in the Second World War.
The ship is crewed by 41 personnel, including ten mine warfare ratings and eight divers, along with officers, engineers and chefs. The current Commanding Officer is Lieutenant Commander Peter Ellison.
Since returning from Bahrain in 2020, HMS Blyth has continued a steady tempo of operations around the UK.
Once relieved of her current tasking, she will sail for Rosyth where the formal decommissioning will take place.