Grafton grounded

A ROYAL navy frigate with close links to Ipswich is to scrapped in the latest round of defence cuts, it has been announced today. HMS Grafton is among three type 23 frigates that will be taken out of service by the end of 2006.

A ROYAL Navy frigate with close links to Ipswich is to scrapped in the latest round of defence cuts, it has been announced.

As revealed on The Evening Star website last night, HMS Grafton is among three type 23 frigates that will be taken out of service-or paid off-by the end of 2006.

The news came yesterday as defence secretary Geoff Hoon announced sweeping cuts across the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force - while stressing extra investment in technology and weaponry.

Commissioned in 1994 and affiliated to Ipswich HMS Grafton was given the freedom of the town in 2000.


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The news has saddened former Ipswich mayor Richard Risebrow . Mr Risebrow spent time on board the ship during his time as mayor in 2002-2003.

He said: "I enjoyed two and a half days on board ship during a NATO exercise. Over the years we have had many visits from the ship and I have enjoyed meeting the various captains.

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Mr Risebrow, who is no longer a councillor, said many in the town would miss the ship's visits to Ipswich.

He said: "It will be a sad loss to the town. The townsfolk enjoyed the connection. It is held in high esteem."

On board Mr Risebrow said the atmosphere was friendly and efficient.

He added: "The hospitality afforded to me was exemplary but it was a war ship and not a cruise ship. At that time several local youngsters were among the crew.

"This is sad news but things like this are a national financial decision."

As well as Ipswich further affiliations have been with local businesses, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps and the TS Orwell Sea Cadet unit.

HMS Grafton and her 185 crew were patrolling the Iraqi coast earlier this year with the responsibility for protecting the huge Al Bakra and Khawr al Amaya terminals which produce 90 per cent of Iraq's oil.

In a commons statement Mr Hoon said a total of 12 Royal Navy ships and vessels would go.

He said three Type 42 destroyers, HMS Cardiff, Newcastle and Glasgow, will be paid off by the end of 2005 and three Type 23 frigates, HMS Norfolk, Marlborough and Grafton, will be paid off by March 2006.

Mr Hoon said cuts included three mine countermeasure vessels, HMS Inverness, Bridport and Sandown, which will be paid off by April 2005. The defence secretary also announced three Northern Ireland patrol vessels, HMS Brecon, Dulverton and Cottesmore, will be paid off by April 2007.

Mr Hoon also announced cuts to the army and Royal Air Force.

What do you think about this story? Should HMS Grafton be scrapped? Should the government be cutting defence expenditure at this time?

Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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