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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Warship HMS Cumberland put up for sale: All offers considered

For sale: warship. One previous owner. Full service history. Proudly Cumbrian.

HMS Cumberland photo
HMS Cumberland

For anyone with the unlikely ambition of owning a Royal Navy frigate, this is the chance of a lifetime.

Cumbria’s adopted warship, HMS Cumberland, is on the market – and all offers will be considered.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has put the Type 22 frigate up for sale alongside three others which have also been taken out of service.

Details were posted online this week, inviting interested parties to register by January 23.

An MoD spokesman said: “The competition to sell four former Type 22 Frigates (HM Ships Cumberland, Campbeltown, Chatham and Cornwall) is at an early stage.

“Successful organisations will be asked to submit formal proposals by the spring with the aim of awarding contracts by the end of the year.”

The potential future uses for the vessels, including Cumberland, could be varied – but do not include another navy returning them to active service.

At least one of the warships will, however, be scrapped.

“It will be for the organisations bidding for the four Type 22 frigates to submit proposals for how they plan to use the ships,” the MoD spokesman added.

“Bids will be accepted to re-use the ships in a non-military capacity, including sinking for use as an artificial reef, and also for recycling.”

No ships similar to the Type 22 have been sold in recent years, so it is difficult to gauge what kind of price Cumberland – which weighs 5,077 tonnes, is 148.1m long and had an armoury including Harpoon missile launchers, anti-shipping missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes and machine guns – might fetch.

The MoD’s Disposal Services Authority (DSA) says its intention is that at least one of the four vessels on the market will be sent to a UK ship recycler, “in part to secure detailed knowledge of the UK’s capacity to recycle vessels”.

HMS Cumberland was officially retired in June last year. She had enjoyed an illustrious career which had included operations to take on pirates and, in later life, to evacuate people from danger in Libya.

A number of Cumbrian naval men and women had served on the ship, which was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders on the River Clyde, launched in 1986 and commissioned in 1989.

Its crew always made strong efforts to retain its connections with the area whose name it bears. Cumbria Tourism chairman Eric Robson joked that it would be nice to see the boat as a tourist attraction moored off Whitehaven, but admitted: “The big difficulty is that the on-cost of maintaining the ship would be colossal.”

He hopes, however, that the county’s naval connection will not be lost, with Royal Navy ships bearing the Cumberland name since 1695.

“This is the 16th ship and I’m sure it won’t be the last,” Mr Robson added.

“It’s always sad to see a ship go to the breaker’s yard, but it’s the way of the world.”

HMS Cumberland was brought out of service as part of the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

It and the three other Type 22s are moored at Portsmouth and will be sold from there.

Viewings with potential bidders will take place between February 25 and March 15.

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