Warship is casualty in defence review

HMS GRAFTON, one of the Royal Navy's most modern frigates and the adopted warship of Ipswich, is one of the shock casualties of the Government's defence review.

By Graham Dines

HMS GRAFTON, one of the Royal Navy's most modern frigates and the adopted warship of Ipswich, is one of the shock casualties of the Government's defence review.

Grafton, star of the television series Making Waves when she was transformed into HMS Suffolk, has been spending the last few months on patrol in the Persian Gulf, in the vital role of defending Iraqi oil installations from terrorist attack.

The Type 23 frigate is being paid off in 2006, which means she will be mothballed and available for sale to a foreign Navy, most probably in South America or the Indian sub-continent.


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Grafton is named after the Suffolk dukedom and is the latest in a long line ships bearing the name. The first ship, a wooden sailing vessel of 70 guns, was completed in 1679 and in 1690 the 27 year-old duke took command of the ship named after him.

The current Grafton, a frigate bristling the latest technology equipment, was built by Yarrows on the Clyde and was commissioned into the Royal Navy on November 5 1994.

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Displacing 4,900 tons, she is equipped with the sea skua anti-ship missile system, anti-submarine torpedoes, and Lynx helicopters.

She was adopted by the borough of Ipswich and has paid several visits to the post.

Ipswich Borough Council chief executive James Hehir said he was surprised and disappointed to hear the news that, so relatively early in a warship's career, she was to be disposed off by the Navy.

“The officers and crew have been fantastic friends to Ipswich, taking part in charity events and liasing with schools. It has been a valuable link for both town and ship,” he said.

“She is due to visit Ipswich next year for what may well be the last time. If it is, I am sure we will give her a tremendous send-off.”

The current captain of HMS Grafton is Commander Adrian Cassar, who joined the Navy in 1978.

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