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Postby Martin » 02 Feb 2009 00:04

Mike Sullivan (aka Sullivan the Poet) from Plymouth has written the following poem about HMS P

He has granted us permission to publicise it (royalty free) anywhere we can, to raise awareness (and hopefully funds) for the 'Save the Plymouth Campaign'

The poem can already be viewed in a number of different places:-

On his website at Sullivan the Poet under 'New Works'

On the iHerald website

Also on the Telegraph website

'Ode to HMS Plymouth..' (A Warrior maid)

Sunday, February 1, 2009, 08:34 PM GMT

Half cent'ry gone in Devonport, they forged and laid her keel,
a spine befit a warrior maid in hissing, flame spat steel;
All ribbed about and armoured through to test the shipwright's art,
therein to beat, loud, strong and true, her mighty iron heart;
Each plate and rivet, weld and seam to deadly purpose sworn,
and thus in fire and blood and iron was frigate 'Plymouth' born.

Four hundred long and forty wide, drawn sixteen in her draught,
three thousand tons of vengeful steel to laud the warsmith's craft;
Set cannon fore and mortar aft to give that vengeance tongue,
that shrill her fearsome battle hymn in smoke and flame be sung;
For shipped she crew near thirteen score, stout hearted tars and true,
to fill her throat with fire and brass to pound her dread tattoo.

They decked her in her battle dress; In frocks of storm sky grey,
and with her smoke black locks atrail, they loosed her seek her prey;
Swift grey assassin sleek and bold, her heart as black as sin,
each iron sinew strained and taut beneath that steel strung skin;
To prowl each ocean, sea and bay for two decades and more,
a restless wraith 'mongst salt sea mists; Asteer some foreign shore.

Til dark upon, and far away, did fall a loutish heel,
an alien foe with dark intent; Our sovereign soil to steal;
At night ashore a Falkland isle beneath a foreign flag,
to call their own within all sight of that foul limpen rag;
All bold they hoist it high and proud on Stanley's civic mast,
to dare Britannia raise her shield and south her trident cast.

And thus did Plymouth bare her teeth and southward turn her face,
her iron heart ahammer as she forced its pulse to race;
Her turbines' wail a wolven howl upon the coal black night,
as cruel as any grey maned beast apace a prey in flight;
All flare her jet black nostrils as they set her breath aflame,
a snarling, slav'ring hound of war; On vengeance bent she came.

To touch with death South Georgia's Isle she sou' sou' eastward skewed,
there to ashore, with fierce intent, Britannia's lethal brood;
Proud hen aguard her deadly chicks she brought them all abeach,
til safe into the gath'ring gloom she saw them vanish each;
Then homaged she the martial gods and tarried each to bless,
'fore turning from their deadly work; Her own dread suit to press.

Swift to San Carlos Water then as vanguard brave she came,
Britannia's warrior daughter come; Her birthright to reclaim;
Brave sentinel, full square she stood, to flout the birds of war,
and 'llow her sisters' deadly broods be safely put ashore;
Though hawk on hawk, their talons keen, tore at her beak and claw,
no quarter gave nor quarter sought although they raked her raw.

Though grave her wounds, and dire their needs, her oaken hearted crew,
stood each their station, steadfast all, good yeoman stock and true;
And to the beat of shot and shell; Each bomb that set her reel,
sang loud each throat her battle hymn in notes of fire and steel;
Til bloodied red in tooth and claw; And rent and torn and spent,
her duty done and task complete she 'llowed herself relent.

Twas then she saw her finest hour: In Stanley harbour's lea,
first warship in, proud ensign high, for all her foes to see;
Til last in Plymouth's ward room did the vanquished stoop to sign,
as the garrison surrender in South Georgia was resign;
'Fore battered, bruised and sorely scarred she northward rode the foam,
the lochs to tend her grievous wounds: Then Devonport... And home.

And now her turn, so boldly served, has brought her to her rest,
to take her place in history 'mongst bravest and the best;
But not for her the cutter's torch, nor yet the gunner's mark,
not while there breathes a naval salt or Janner worth the hark;
To bring her home to Guzz again; To 'gainst its foreshore lie,
and rest her keel a final time beneath a Plymouth sky...

© Sullivan the Poet 2009

At the time of writing this; HMS Plymouth is moored on the river Mersey at Birkenhead - a mooring she will lose in the next six to nine months as the municipal authorities want to 'develop' the quay on which she is moored. As a result there was a deal of talk by the authorities of cutting her up... HMS Plymouth Association continue to protest that action and are working with the WWC to rescue her.

In the hope of not only preventing that, but returning her to her home port of Plymouth a company - - was set up to raise the money to buy her for the nation and take her to Devon. They have raised enough so far to buy her, tow her to Devon and have her surveyed. What they do not have as of yet, despite their best attempts to rent one from Plymouth City Council, the MOD and Devonport Dockyard, is a berth for her.

In the face of total disinterest on the part of the City's council and leaders; not to mention downright hostility on the part of the maritime authorities, the only answer is to attempt to raise enough money to buy her a berth outright, open her to the general public as part of our naval heritage and let her live out her retirement in peace and dignity as a training ship for the Sea Cadets and a naval museum in her home port...

I am sure there are many naval men and Falklanders out there who have a soft spot for both the City whose name she bears and this 'Warrior Maid' and feel she should be saved for the nation and returned to rest in her home port of Plymouth in Devon.

If you want to help then you can do so by copying this poem, with this letter, and pasting it on any and all forums/blogs and/or web sites you have access to. Publicity is everything and ONLY with YOUR help can the 'Save HMS Plymouth' campaign succeed...

If you wish to make a donation however then that is outside my jurisdiction and you should therefore contact HMS Plymouth Association direct for further details on the following...

Please make use of this opportunity to spread the word far and wide by posting on other websites/message boards/blogs ..... wherever you can think of

Yours Aye

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Postby Martin » 04 Feb 2009 00:37

A couple of articles from today's Herald & Evening Herald

Dream has run aground

'Very unlikely' HMS Plymouth will ever come home
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Postby Martin » 04 Feb 2009 18:10

Portsmouth News today

Ship's appeal for a home
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Postby Martin » 13 Feb 2009 20:33

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Postby Martin » 01 Apr 2009 12:06

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Postby Martin » 01 Jul 2009 13:11

HMS Plymouth attained the ripe old age of 50 this year and, as a consequence of this, has been registered on the National Register of Historic Vessels Certificate No.620

The following document, compiled by Andy Hayler, has been filed with National Historic Ships and will 'sit' with her on the register

The Heritage Case for the Preservation of HMS Plymouth

HMS PLYMOUTH (1959-88 ) is a vessel of notable historic interest. This paper provides the compelling heritage case for preservation, in addition to supporting her inclusion in the National Register of Historic Vessels.

HMS PLYMOUTH served with great distinction in most of the significant Naval Operations and engagements since the Second World War. Her role in the Falklands War is of particular note. Whilst her distinguished history, by itself, provides a convincing case for preservation, this paper will demonstrate that HMS PLYMOUTH is worth saving for more than just an illustrious past.

HMS PLYMOUTH is unique because there are no other post World War II Royal Naval surface warships in preservation in the United Kingdom.

Of course, HMS PLYMOUTH’s significance needs to be contextualised within the history of Britain’s significant (preserved) naval heritage and this is briefly considered in the next section.

Britain’s Maritime Heritage – a short history.

Britain is justly proud of its maritime heritage and demonstrates this pride in the impressive maritime museums and preserved warships maintained for public display and historical research.

The Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth is famous for its ships and artefacts such as THE MARY ROSE (early 16th century), Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS VICTORY (late 18th century) and HMS WARRIOR (mid-19th century) - a warship built with a wrought iron citadel and depicting the transition from sail to steam power.

In addition, HMS TRINCOMALEE (1817, preserved at Hartlepool) HMS UNICORN (1824, preserved at Dundee) and HMS GANNET (1878, preserved at Chatham) demonstrate the progression in shipbuilding from wood to iron and steel and again, from sail to steam propulsion.
The early 20th Century is represented by HMS CAROLINE, (1914, preserved at Belfast) a First World War light cruiser, and the only ship still afloat that saw action at Jutland.

Mid 20th century examples are, HMS BELFAST (1939, a 6” Cruiser) berthed on the Thames at London; HMS CAVALIER (1944, Ca class Destroyer) permanently located in Chatham Historic Dockyard, and HMS MEDUSA (1943, Harbour Defence Motor Launch) which is currently being restored at Southampton. They are all examples of warships that were built in the immediate World War II period and this is reflected in their design, construction and technology.

The fact that HMS PLYMOUTH is a prime example of a post WWII warship design and construction has become a far more significant weighting factor in favour of preservation. Such are the profound changes incorporated in a modern ship’s power, propulsion, weapon and ship husbandry systems in recent decades, the like of HMS PLYMOUTH will never be seen again.

Thus, from a development point of view, HMS PLYMOUTH represents an important period of time in our maritime history, just as surely as HMS VICTORY celebrates the Royal Navy’s excellence with sail-driven ships, HMS WARRIOR demonstrates how ships were built during the industrial revolution and HMS BELFAST represents an era when Naval firepower was king.

The historic significance of HMS PLYMOUTH derives naturally from the following four accepted ‘domains’:

(1) Her relevance to naval technology.
(2) Her reflection of key social changes in the post war period.
(3) Her military-political role in supporting foreign policy.
(4) The pivotal role she played in the Falklands War.

1 Relevance to Naval Technology

HMS PLYMOUTH, a Type 12 first rate anti-submarine frigate marked an important step in the modernisation of the Fleet after WWII. The class represented a new breed of fast, seaworthy vessels capable of hunting and destroying modern conventional submarines; for many years the Class formed the backbone of the Royal Navy’s frigate force.

• Designed to operate in the Iceland–Faeroes gap and with experience derived from the protection of Artic convoys during WWII the Type 12 hull was created to shed water and prevent the build up of ice, as well as enable the ship to steam at high speed. The sea-keeping qualities were, at the time, rated the best of all NATO frigates.

• To provide a degree of protection to the crews the ASW weapons were re-located to the stern.

• To counter the strategic threat of the early Cold War era, she was fitted with Type 177 Medium Range Sonar, which significantly improved our ability to combat a Soviet Navy, whose chief strength – then – lay in huge numbers of fully ocean-going submarines.

Type 12 frigates also served in most of the Commonwealth Navies, either purchased from UK Shipyards or constructed locally as in the RAN and RCN.

Given the established success of the Type 12 form, virtually the same hull and machinery was repeated in the equally successful Leander Class.

The significance of the design and technology seen in HMS PLYMOUTH has been internationally recognised by a number of naval authorities.

According to Friedman (2007):

‘The Type 12 and the Leander class frigates [are] probably the most successful post-war British warships ……’1

HMS PLYMOUTH’s machinery was the final manifestation of steam propulsion in a surface warship and took temperatures and pressures to new limits: the Babcock and Wilcox boilers applied superheated steam of 550psi at 8500F to twin geared turbines capable of developing 30,000shp, far above the modest 17psi at 2620F found in HMS WARRIOR (1860) with its 3,700shp twin cylinder horizontal trunk engine.

As noted by Rear Admiral Hammersley (2009):

‘The reliability of the Y100 steam plant configuration of HMS PLYMOUTH was one of the factors we could take for granted during the Falklands Campaign’ 2

Over her lifetime time further technical advances were applied to the ship, keeping her fit for purpose throughout a long and very active life from 1959 to 1988. Thus, there are numerous technologies which can be displayed to the public showing the advances made.

• At the time of her build, HMS PLYMOUTH’s electronic equipment used glass thermionic valves and although she retained these and her analogue systems for her 4.5” gun and mortar Mk10 ASW some of equipment was replaced by transistor based systems.

• With the development of the German XXI submarine, its projected XXVI successor and the advent of nuclear propulsion for submarines, the ship was retro-fitted with the ability to deploy a small helicopter greatly enhancing strike speed and range and overall capability.

• In order to accommodate the helicopter one set of triple Limbo Mk 10 ASW mortar was removed and a magazine fitted for lightweight homing torpedoes to be carried by the ‘Wasp’ helicopter which was to become the standard on frigates of this size.

• The ship also evolved from ‘dumb’ weapons to ‘smart’ weapons –i.e. the single Bofors 40/60 gun was replaced with the ‘Seacat’ close range missile system, which proved very effective in the confines of San Carlos Waters in 1982.

2 Post-WW2 Social Change

HMS PLYMOUTH was operational from 1959-1988, which represented a period of marked social change. In particular, conscription ended and life for those onboard had to be improved for an all Volunteer Service. In 1965 it was no longer mandatory to wear uniform when going on night shore leave.

Ship design at last banished much of the equipment which hitherto had been included in living spaces such as hull and fire pumps and steam capstans, greatly enhancing the habitability of living spaces.

The sailors’ hammocks were finally replaced half way through her life by bunk beds ending an ancient tradition that was synonymous with life at sea (and incidentally removing a damage control facility as they were lashed and stowed in a precise way so they could be used to plug leaks if the need arose).

The major refit of 1966 also gave the sailors the luxury of a separate dining room. The sailors may have liked the idea of not having to carry meals to the living quarters, but they were probably not so happy when they no longer collected their time-honoured tot of rum – ending a tradition that had lasted from 1731 to 31st July 1970.

As noted by Captain John Wells:

‘In 1968 saw the abolition of officer cooks and ships cooks and the branches were amalgamated, reflecting the greater proficiency of the average naval cook and his ascendancy in the status within the hierarchy of the lower deck’ 3

Reflecting the ‘duty of care’ that is now integral to the British Government’s commitment to our servicemen, HMS PLYMOUTH is fitted with a consecrated chapel to honour and remember those who were killed in the conflict and provides solace for those who did return and a place to reflect on the nature of armed conflict.

The memorial chapel, with plaques listing over 130 men lost, was dedicated on 24th October 19934

3 The Ship’s Military and Political Role

Apart from fulfilling her designated role and participating in numerous national and multi-national exercises, HMS PLYMOUTH supported more diverse political aims and military objectives than most other ships in the British Fleet. She has distinguished herself in many ‘active’ roles, including the following examples:

• HMS PLYMOUTH served in the Borneo campaign, supporting the fledgling Federation of Malaysia in the armed confrontation with Indonesia.

• HMS PLYMOUTH was one of the first ships on the Beira Patrol when Rhodesia’s prime-minister Ian Smith announced a unilateral declaration of independence to separate his country from the United Kingdom, in 1965. The patrol stopped fuel reaching Ian Smith’s illegal regime via a pipeline from the port of Beira in Mozambique and it was to last until 1975. This was a deployment where the political objectives were paramount.

• HMS PLYMOUTH was active in the Icelandic ‘cod wars’. The Icelandic Government suddenly imposed a 200nm fishing zone around Iceland. This was not recognised by the United Kingdom or the international community. Royal Naval ships were dispatched to protect our fishing boats from harassment by Icelandic gunboats intent on cutting their trawl nets. This was a deployment to protect our economic interests.

• More peaceful duties have included ‘showing the flag’ around the world and she was due to embark on one such a trip to the West Indies in 1982. However before she was able to set sail the Argentine Junta had invaded The Falkland Islands and HMS PLYMOUTH was called on to make, what was unquestionably, the most significant contribution in her entire career.

At a time when Britain’s international standing was waning, it is perhaps ironic that HMS PLYMOUTH suddenly found itself at the centre of an apparent renaissance of military-political power due to the Falklands War: where she was the centre of the world’s only ‘hot’ naval war since 1945, from which many military/naval lessons have been drawn.

4 The Falklands War

HMS PLYMOUTH is best known for the prominent role she played during the Falklands War.

In April 1982, she sailed with Royal Marines and SAS aboard, in company with HMS ANTRIM and RFA TIDEPOOL and, later HMS ENDURANCE, to retake South Georgia. The successful conclusion of this detachment culminated in the destruction of the Argentine submarine SANTA FE, capitulation of the garrison ashore and the signing of a surrender document in the wardroom of HMS PLYMOUTH.

While this action was a necessary precursor to the primary objective of restoring political control of the Falkland Islands to its British inhabitants, the retaking of South Georgia served to underline the serious intent of the UK and was an important boost to morale back at home..

HMS PLYMOUTH soon returned to Falkland waters where she was involved in every aspect of the campaign, from escorting amphibious shipping and landing craft into San Carlos Waters, inserting Special Forces, covering the aircraft carriers, to bombarding shore targets with her twin 4.5” guns and protecting shipping in San Carlos Waters from attacking Argentine aircraft.

During one such air attack, she was targeted by Mirage aircraft and hit by four bombs, which had been released too low and therefore failed to detonate, plus numerous cannon shells, putting out of action her anti-submarine mortars, and causing a depth charge to explode on the edge of the flight-deck which set fire to a mess deck. After the ship’s company had extinguished the fire and carried out immediate repairs, further support was provided by the repair ship Stena Seaspread and after this short spell, HMS PLYMOUTH was again operational.

Five members of her ships company were wounded, one seriously.

With the surrender of the Argentine forces on East Falklands, HMS PLYMOUTH was the first warship to enter Port Stanley when Captain David Pentreath her commanding officer, briefly assumed the duties of ‘Queen’s Harbour Master’

As graphically described by Baroness Thatcher:

‘HMS PLYMOUTH was never far from the thick of the action whether it be at South Georgia, in San Carlos Bay or off Port Stanley itself. The Ship’s Company distinguished themselves time and time again over those arduous months and I constantly marvelled at the bravery of all our young men as they fended off repeated attacks. Britain will always be grateful for what you did two decades ago. We will remember those who did not return and we will honour those who did’5

Summary of the Case for Preservation

Warships are, by their very nature, a multifaceted complex technological creation from both construction and social perspectives. The ships on display in the heritage fleet show how personnel used to live and work within the confines of a warship. They also emphasise that the Senior Service’s social hierarchy is unique and HMS PLYMOUTH’s very layout provides a typical example of what it was like to serve in the Royal Navy in the late 20th Century.

Importantly, HMS PLYMOUTH comes from the recent past and there are many of the people who served on her available to recall life aboard the ship. This provides the opportunity to augment the library of oral recollections that could be used to enhance the experience of visitors to the ship when used within the exhibition scenario.

At the time of her decommissioning, she was, by modern standards, already a fairly old ship and with the other ships of her class already been disposed of there was no need for any of her fittings to be remove and thus she remains virtually complete. With so little of her equipment having been disturbed, each piece is displayed in its correct context, indeed much original machinery is still capable of operation e.g. diesel generators, sonar, radar, turret and Seacat launcher.

By any objective criteria, HMS PLYMOUTH is of outstanding significance to our nation’s maritime heritage. The Falklands War can be viewed as pivotal in radically changing not only military thinking and tactics in the late 20th Century but also Britain’s standing in the world at large.

This historic ship, which already has a proven track record as a successful visitor attraction, cannot be allowed to fade way from the public eye. The surrender of Argentine forces in South Georgia was signed in her wardroom, she was present at the San Carlos landings and was later damaged by bombs and cannon shells, defending the anchorage. She is one of the very few ships to have been involved in every action throughout the campaign. Moreover, the Type 12 frigate represents an important and successful class, justified of preservation in her own right.

HMS PLYMOUTH is thus more than worthy to take her place alongside such ships as HMS VICTORY or HMS BELFAST, indeed she is unique in reflecting the RN in the latter part of the 20th Century.

1 Norman Friedman, British Destroyers and Frigates; p 196
2 Rear Admiral Peter Hamersley, CB, CBE ,Fleet Engineering Officer 1982, in conversation with the author May 2009.
3 Captain John Wells, The Royal Navy, An Illustrated Social History 1870 – 1970
4 Warship World, Volume 4 Number 9, Winter 1993, p21
5 Baroness Margaret Thatcher, OM, PC, FRS, Letter of 26th August 2002 to the Ship’s Company of HMS Plymouth.

Being registered with the NRHV does not mean that a vessel cannot be 'scrapped'. It does however, mean that this 'deconstruction' must be done systematically and with 'due process'. The following is taken from the NRHV website Deconstructing Historic Vessels

It must be recognised that occasions will arise when an historic vessel has fallen into a sad decline and may be beyond salvation and it may become necessary to contemplate the loss of the vessel. In extreme cases of this kind where a ship might have to be broken up, it is still possible to save a valuable record of the ship's structure and operational life. In other words, the process of ship-breaking should be carefully managed to permit a full record of her structure to be made as she is dismantled - in a process of controlled de-construction.

So hopefully, this should slow things down a little and perhaps give us more time to find a suitable berth.

Yours Aye

Martin Slater
Last edited by Martin on 14 Aug 2009 16:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Martin » 01 Jul 2009 14:30

On Wednesday 20th May, Capt Pentreath, Tony Crisp and Andy Hayler held a meeting with the new Director-General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Dr. Dominic Tweddle.

This meeting was to put forward the following points to Dr. Tweddle :-

i) Brief History of where we are now and how we got there

ii) Our Objectives

iii) Our Vision

iv) Why Portsmouth is the most suitable location for HMS Plymouth and why Portsmouth needs HMS Plymouth. Plus practical considerations

v) Understand current policy and future direction of core RN Museums in respect of integrated administration and implications. Interrelationship between RN Museums and Historic Dockyard, Priddy’s Yard

vi) Development of Gosport side, local authority support / involvement in development issues, Alliance / Hornet

vii) Understand what options are open to us

A copy of Andy's document The Heritage Case for the Preservation of HMS Plymouth (see previous post) was given to Dr. Tweddle.

The meeting was well received and subsequent to this Dr. Tweddle requested a meeting with Martyn Heighton, the Director and Secretary to the Advisory Committee National Historic Ships to discuss the future of both HMS Caroline and HMS Plymouth.
I do not know whether this meeting has yet taken place and therefore cannot inform you of it's outcome.

Yours Aye

Martin Slater
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