Ship naming after town 'unlikely'

A BOROUGH councillor's hope to have a Royal Navy ship named after a north Essex town has been described as "not far from non existent" by an MP. Colchester councillor Kevin Bentley believes a ship named after the town could help it as it aims for the status as the prestige place to live in the East of England.

A BOROUGH councillor's hope to have a Royal Navy ship named after a north Essex town has been described as "not far from non existent" by an MP.

Colchester councillor Kevin Bentley believes a ship named after the town could help it as it aims for the status as the prestige place to live in the East of England.

But yesterday, the town's MP Bob Russell, said there would be other places further up the pecking order when it came to naming a vessel.

Previously, the steamer ship, SS Colchester, gained fame when its captain attempted to ram a U Boat to avoid capture during World War I.

Royal Navy vessels coming off the production line are few and far between, but Mr Bentley said he would write to the Queen and the Prime Minister asking for their support.

He said: "At the moment, the plans are in early stages, but we are trying to get an aircraft carrier or a ship to be named HMS Colchester.

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"We are trying to get a future ship to be named this as the town has a great military history and the ship would take the name of Colchester around the world."

Mr Bentley added he would be putting a motion to the full borough council asking for its backing.

He called for anyone who would have an interest in helping the cause to contact him about the proposals.

Last night Mr Russell said the idea was something he had also looked at for the town, but nothing came of it.

He said: "It would be marvellous and I investigated this five years ago. There are fewer ships in the navy and towns with a greater naval tradition will be bidding for them – but there is no harm in trying again.

"The problem is there are more places who would wish to have ships named after them than there are ships available. The chances are not non existent, but not far off non-existent."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said ships currently in production had already been given names but there could be two new aircraft carriers in service by 2012 and 2015 which were not named.

"The ships, names and badges committee at the Ministry of Defence looks at the variety of names, all of which are secret, and forwards names to admiralty board and if they approve it, they go forward to Her Majesty the Queen," he said.

Any such move would be similar to Ipswich's affiliation with HMS Grafton, the £140-million frigate which is a major tourist attraction when it makes regular visits to the town.

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