Saw this on Facebook and thought it was a nice speech. Sums up 42's and the people who served on them pretty well in my opinion.
I wasn't there I might add. I'm far too young to start attending reunions.
I wasn't there I might add. I'm far too young to start attending reunions.
Eulogy for the T42s Dinner in the Painted Hall, Greenwich 3 October 2013
Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks CB DSC DL
It is a serious challenge for me to speak this evening and give the eulogy for these wonderful and outstanding ships who have served the Royal Navy, our country and their ships companies for nearly 40 years. Especially challenging when I look at those here at this dinner my peer group and those who have served with me in T42s such a pity that David Hart-Dyke whose inspirational leadership of COVENTRY in war is legendary is not able to be with us tonight - his book which reflects so vividly the real challenges of command in combat and in adversity should be compulsory reading for every aspiring Commanding Officer.
But returning to our eulogy for SHEFFIELD, BIRMINGHAM, NEWCASTLE, COVENTRY, GLASGOW, CARDIFF, EXETER, SOUTHAMPTON, LIVERPOOL, NOTTINGHAM, MANCHESTER, YORK, GLOUCESTER, EDINBURGH. What made these destroyers so different in the last half century of the Royal Navy's history? And what is their legacy?
And please rest assured I am not going to even try and tell the story of each individual ship - after all you all want to get to the bar and swap dits. But it is good to see that a group of T42 sailors have been determined to keep the T42 spirit going and in fairly short order under Bob Mullens dynamic leadership have formed the T42 Association - whose standard we have seen paraded here tonight. An outstanding performance - first reunion already achieved, the next being planned for 2015 - and plans being formed to create a memorial to the ships and their people at the National Arboretum. I commend membership of the Association to everyone here who has served in a T42. After all, annual membership is only a small fraction of the cost of tonight's dinner!!
But before talking about what has been achieved by our ships, it is probably worth reflecting on how they came about. Born out of the aborted battle to get CVA01 into service, many of us here tonight can remember the intense economic difficulties that faced the UK in the late 1960s and 1970s - and the Cold War that was so dominant in defence planning at the time. When we consider the cost of their replacements, the T45s, the earlier T42s were comparatively cheap - but the combination of the Treasury and the Plans Division of the day had a significant impact on the design of the first 10. With an initial budget of £19M per ship(£280M in today's money), the first design was somewhat similar to the Batch 3s but came in at £21M. Therefore £2M (£30m) had to be saved - equivalent of 40ft of hull length forward of the bridge. Yet SHEFFIELD came in at £23M unit costs rising rapidly to £40M by the time the last B1 entered service. The B3s ended up costing around £120M (£320M in today's money). So over the length of the building programme, and not forgetting the cost of that extra 40 feet in the hull length, the cost of the ships had only gone up by £40M in today's prices - I suggest that was a pretty good achievement.
Looking now at their service over 40 years - and they have been everywhere - in times of peace, tension, combat and war. From surveillance operations in the cold north off Murmansk to war and tension in the stormy waters of the South Atlantic, from counter drug and humanitarian operations in the warm waters of the Caribbean to peace support operations in the tropical heat of East Timor, from combat operations in the intense heat of the Arabian Gulf to intensive deterrence operations throughout the Mediterranean. Seadart has lived up to and exceeded its design spec destroying aircraft and missiles in combat while also providing a huge deterrence to manned aircraft. And we must not forget their Fighter Controllers and air teams who controlled Harriers in the Falklands, worked with UK and allied aircraft in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Adriatic and performed with distinction during a plethora of deployments to the Gulf. The T42s have been extremely effective AAW platforms. But there is more to being a modern destroyer than just the air battle. There is barely an UK operation that has not involved a Type 42 or more - perhaps with the one exception of the Afghanistan land campaign - and I suspect that was not for the want of trying!! Our country has had huge value for money for the investment made in these remarkable ships.
Just to reflect on some of their history to reflect the diverse nature of their operations over 40 years:
SHEFFIELD & COVENTRY forever etched in the Navy's history following their loss in the Falklands and the death of 40 of their people. They have no graves amongst the flowers - just the waters that wash our shores. We remember their sacrifice with pride - SILENCE
BIRMINGHAM - only post Falklands T42 to retain 992 she is etched in paintings leading the Royal Yacht through the Silver Jubilee Fleet review.
NEWCASTLE - Evacuation of Aden and Yemen in 1994 with the Royal Yacht under command
GLASGOW - Damaged in the Falklands, she had the challenge of coping with Indonesian submarines, fast craft and FGA during the East Timor operation
CARDIFF - Two battle honours - Falklands & First Gulf War
Blue-bottomed EXETER also saw service in the Falklands & First Gulf War
SOUTHAMPTON - seized 3.5 tonnes of cocaine in the West Indies while doing counter drug operations just before she paid off
LIVERPOOL - supported Montserrat following a devastating volcano eruption and has the diction of being the last T42 to fire her gun in action during Libyan campaign
NOTTINGHAM - covered oceans as far apart as the South Atlantic and Pacific undertaking almost every type of peacetime contingency operations during her career
The Busy Bee MANCHESTER equally covered most of the seas of the world tending to specialise to a degree in counter the drugs trade and was the first RN ship to visit Cuba since the 1950s
YORK escorted HM the Queen during her State Visit to China and conducted the evacuation of civilians from war torn Beirut
The Fighting G shot down a Silkworm missile during the First Gulf War, both CARDIFF and GLOUCESTER's Lynx helicopters helped destroy the Iraqi navy and she was involved with YORK in the Beirut evacuation
EDINBURGH - the last T42 - she escorted OCEAN during the Second Gulf War and has the distinction, sadly, of firing the last Seadart missile.
I hope that with these very few snapshots of their busy and active lives, I have captured in some small way the plethora of operations which each and every one of our destroyers have conducted with distinction through their busy lives. But let us not forget the things that made our T42s distinctive:
- the power of their machinery plants - who cannot remember the sound of the 2 Olys winding up to full power without a shiver down their spine
- their manoeuvrability - and the sounds from the galley when going starboard 35 at speed
- watching the flight commanders face when he was invited to do an aft facing landing for the first time
- firing of Seadart at night
- doing OOD middle watch rounds of the big after mess decks when the boys had had a beer and curry run ashore
- the wonderfully distinctive aroma of the after heads
- BUT ABOVE ALL their graceful lines, justly meriting the title 'greyhounds of the ocean'
But the legacy of the T42 is not just what they have achieved - it is the way and manner in which they have influenced peoples lives - especially those who had the pleasure and privilege of serving onboard them - destroyer men and women - who have continued the destroyer spirit begun over 100 years ago when destroyers first entered service in the Navy. An enduring culture embodied by comradeship, adversity in danger, professionalism, courage and an outstanding team spirit that pervaded the whole ships company. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War we saw that spirit writ large in the destroyers that flung themselves at the German Battle Fleet in 1916, patrolled endlessly the dangerous waters of the Atlantic and North Sea, and fighting the unseen underwater enemy. The same spirit was reflected as destroyers courageously evacuated the Army from Dunkirk, Greece and Crete, that refought the perilous battles against weather and the U boats in the Atlantic and Arctic.
Destroyers have for over 100 years been the workhorses of the Fleet - and our Type 42s have maintained that legacy for 40 of those years. Those of us who have served in these wonderful ships can be justly proud of our achievements - of our service to our comrades, our Navy, our Allies and to our country.
To paraphrase the Naval Prayer .. These superb ships and their outstanding crews have been a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth and her dominions, and been a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; the inhabitants of our Islands and Commonwealth have lived in peace and quietness and all but 40 of our comrades have returned in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land with the fruits of our labours.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise.
The toast is to The Type 42s and their crews