Holed destroyer carried into home port

By Victoria Logan
Monday 09 December 2002 01:00

The damaged destroyer HMS Nottingham arrived back at port yesterday, five months after it ran aground off the Australian coast.

The 80ft gash in the hull was visible as the warship was brought into Portsmouth. Less visible, but just as embarrassing, will be a £12m bill for salvage and £26m for repairs.

HMS Nottingham, which cost £115m, sailed into well-charted rocks near Lord Howe Island, 200 miles off the Australian coast, in July. It was taken back to Britain on a transport ship. The Type-42 destroyernearly sank and faced being scrapped. But the Ministry of Defence decided to save it because of the amount of money spent on its construction and maintenance. A refit costing £55m in 1999 – due to keep the ship in service until 2012 – meant the repairs were justified, an MoD spokesman said.

No decision has been taken on whether the warship's captain, Commander Richard Farrington, will be reprimanded.

A board of inquiry found there were "some lapses from the standards set by the Royal Navy" but Commander Farrington has yet to hear whether he will become the fourth commander in the past 10 years to face a court martial for running a ship aground.

Lt-Cdr Simon Dalziel, a Royal Navy spokesman, said the ship's recovery was "a success story in its own right". HMS Nottingham was towed to Sydney and welded to the transport ship for the six-week, 12,000-mile journey to the UK.

The 3,500-ton ship will be taken off the transport ship in a two-day operation, refloated and docked for repairs, which could take up to 18 months.

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