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By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
AFTER more than five months on active duty in the Far East and the Gulf, HMS Edinburgh is paying a brief visit to Minorca before she finally returns home to Portsmouth at the start of next month.

HMS Edinburgh, is the penultimate Type 42 Destroyer in the Royal Navy and the largest of the Type 42 Destroyers and been playing a hugely successful and effective role in the war against smuggling drugs possibly being used to fund the insurgency fighting British forces in Afghanistan through the Gulf region.

The warship, which was launched by Lady Heseltine in 1983, celebrated its 25th anniversary in April while on patrol with the Royal Navy's Orion 2008 deployment to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean and she has been involved with some of the largest drugs seizures in the region.

Earlier this month it was revealed that Royal Navy warships operating in the Gulf region seized 23 tonnes of narcotics.
Seizures by coalition naval forces over the past five months total 30 tonnes, over 70 per cent of which (23 tonnes) was down to Royal Navy interceptions.

The British warships involved were the frigates HMS Chatham and HMS Montrose, and the HMS Edinburgh, the crew of which are enjoying some rest and recuperation in Minorca. Yesterday, the Commanding Officer Gavin Young and the Naval Attaché in Madrid, Capt. David Wolfe accompanied the British Consul Paul Abrey and the Honorary Consul to Minorca Deborah Hellyer on a round of high level engagements including a meeting with the President of the Council of Minorca Joana Barcelo. The visit has also coincided with the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of when Minorca was captured by the Royal Navy during the War of the Spanish Succession, and when Minorca became a British possession under the governorship of General Richard Kane.

This morning, the commemoration will he held at the Richard Kane memorial during which speeches will be made and wreaths will be laid by Commander Gavin Young and President Joana Barcelo.

A small group of 10- 12 volunteers from the ship's crew will this afternoon be heading out to “Blood Island” to help the restoration work which is currently being carried out on the historic military hospital in the middle of Mahon Harbour.

Last night Commander Young told the Bulletin that the crew has enjoyed a “varied” deployment. “We started off as part of a multinational Carrier Strike Group and then took part in a Five Powers Defense arrangement in the Far East before being deployed into the Gulf region and the southern Arabian Sea just over a month ago. There, our main role was to crackdown and deter the illegal activities at sea and we enjoyed considerable success in particular in the war on drug smuggling through the area,” Commander Young said.

The crew can now look forward to catching up on some leave before preparing for a winter deployment in UK and Baltic water due to start towards the end of this year.