Warship set for new oceans
SUFFOLK'S adopted warship could go to a new home on the other side of the world when it is pensioned off by the Royal Navy in 19 months' time.HMS Grafton is to be paid off by the navy in March 2006 as part of the defence review announced last month.
SUFFOLK'S adopted warship could go to a new home on the other side of the world when it is pensioned off by the Royal Navy in 19 months' time.
HMS Grafton is to be paid off by the navy in March 2006 as part of the defence review announced last month.
Today it emerged that it could be sold to Chile as part of a deal by the South American country to buy three redundant naval vessels.
It could be sold with HMS Norfolk and HMS Marlborough in a £100 million deal.
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That would represent a considerable loss for the Royal Navy - HMS Grafton cost £150 when it entered naval service just seven years ago.
The class 23 frigate is the newest naval vessel to be declared surplus to requirements in the review.
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Its fate was sealed because it was due for an expensive refit in 2006.
The Royal Navy would today not confirm that Grafton was bound for Chile, but a spokesman said all options would be considered in disposing of her.
"We shall be attempting to get the best deal for the British taxpayer, and it may be that Grafton is sold to another country.
"But we cannot comment on any negotiations that may or may not be underway with any other governments," he said.
A total of 12 ships are due to be taken out of service by March 2006, and a naval expert said it was inevitable some would be sold to other countries.
"For a start there isn't room to tie them all up in Portsmouth harbour!" he said.
"The government will be looking to sell the newer vessels - and Grafton is a prime candidate for that.
"Chile is a country that has bought ships from Britain in the past and Grafton and her two sister ships would be useful additions to their navy," he added.
If she was sold, Grafton would be given a new name by her new owner - many countries navies buy second-hand vessels.
The Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, sunk during the Falklands War, was built as the USS Phoenix in 1938.
What are your memories of HMS Grafton? Do you think it should be sold to another country? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org