The good folk of York have agreed to take on new destroyer HMS Dragon as their affiliated warship – filling the hole left by the decommissioning of their namesake ship last year.
The Type 45 destroyer is also bound with Cardiff and will begin forging her new friendship once she returns from her maiden deployment to the Gulf.
HMS Dragon at sea in the Gulf earlier this month. Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Jenkins
THE good folk of Yorkshire’s county town have a new friend in the form of fire-breathing HMS Dragon.
The City of York has accepted the Royal Navy’s request to adopt the Portsmouth-based destroyer – currently on her maiden deployment in the Gulf – thus plugging the gap left by the demise of the historic city’s namesake warship last year.
York enjoyed a proud and fruitful affiliation with veteran Type 42 destroyer HMS York until she decommissioned in September 2012 after 30 years’ service.
Her sailors paid her final visit to the city last autumn, returning the Freedom Scroll to civic leaders after her ship’s company paraded through the streets for the last time.
As the new Type 45 destroyers are the successors to the Town or Sheffield class, they’ve continued many (though not all) of the affiliates enjoyed by their forebears.
Cllr Keith Hyman, then Lord Mayor of York, inspects the ship's guard in the shadow of York Minister during the final visit by the Type 42's sailors to the city last September. Picture: LA(Phot) Paul Halliwell
So Dragon has Cardiff as HMS Cardiff once did. Diamond is bound with Coventry, Daring with Birmingham, Defender with Exeter, Dauntless with Newcastle.
As there are fewer than half the number of 45s compared with their predecessors, however, all the new destroyers have two affiliated towns, cities or localities. Guernsey for Daring. Aberdeen for Diamond. Great Yarmouth for Dauntless and so on.
So once Dragon returns from her tour of duty east of Suez (she’s just about at the half-way stage), she’ll begin to forge relations with York’s Lord Mayor Cllr Julie Gunnell.
Dragon's sailors enjoy the sights of Cardiff on their first visit to the Welsh capital in the spring of 2012
The size of the ship – like HMS York before her – means Dragon can get no closer than Hull for a visit, however.
Not so in Cardiff, where Queen Alexandra Dock is slap bang in the heart of the regenerated waterfront (home to the National Assembly and the like).
Dragon visited the Welsh capital for the first time last year and will do so again next spring when Cardiff’s leaders are due to bestow the Freedom of the City upon the destroyer, thus permitting the ship’s company to march through its heart “with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and Colours flying.”