IT was the moment the Forth bid farewell to the Clyde.
On an early, crisp February afternoon the Royal Navy’s newest ship slipped under the Erskine Bridge and sailed past Dumbarton Castle. She may never be back.
The offshore patrol vessel, soon to be “HMS” Forth, was on her way to her official new home, Portsmouth. But her journey is only just beginning. Once commissioned, the Forth is to take up the furthest flung post of the British navy: guarding the Falkland Islands. And, that involves the craft, not quite 300ft long, crossing 8,000 miles of ocean.
There the Forth will replace HMS Clyde, which has spent a decade as Britain’s deterrent against an Argentinian invasion after taking over from HMS Dumbarton Castle.
The UK announced a new ground-to-air missile defence for the Falklands and the Forth will form part of an army, RAF and navy force of 1,300 which accounts for roughly a third of of the islands’ population.