THE Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Newcastle sailed into Palma yesterday on what will be her last foreign port-of-call before she is scrapped next year
The Newcastle is 26 years old and was one of the ships earmarked for the chop in the sweeping defence cuts announced by Defence Minister Geoff Hoon last week. However, the 250 crew of the Type 42 destroyer are looking to make this visit extra special and have been looking forward to the visit to Palma for months. The ship has been away from its home port of Portsmouth for seven months serving with the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean which is a NATO flotilla of vessels. Although the ship is older than the average age of her crew they insist that she is still a potent vessel, a state of affairs which has been clearly underlined during their deployment.
After they leave Palma, it is non-stop to Portsmouth. Before retirement the destroyer will visit Newcastle, where she was built and a city which naturally has close links with the vessel. While Palma is considered one of the best ports in the Mediterranean for a run ashore Newcastle is the best in Britain. But Newcastle has an even greater link and therefore the visit to her home city should be one to remember.
The Type 42 destroyer will remain in Palma until the weekend. She is moored at Palma's Dique del Oeste. She is armed with the Sea Dart surface to air missile system, carries torpedo tubes and is equipped with the Vulcan Phalanx rapid firing cannon. This American built system was installed following the loss of the Newcastle's sister ships, Sheffield and Coventry during the Falklands war in 1982.
The Vulcan Phalanx has been designed especially to combat the threat from air to surface missile systems, like the Exocet. She is also equipped with a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter which has proved invaluable during her deployment.