The former RN fleet tender Pride of Bristol left her namesake port for the last time at the end of May after over a quarter century of service in and around the City of Bristol and Bristol Channel.
She was launched by Richard Dunston Ltd at Thorne, Humberside in 1982 as HMFT Messina A107, one of a quartet of 29m RN fleet tenders of the Manly Class, the others being Manly, Mentor, and Millbrook.
She was attached the Royal Marines in Poole as a training vessel before being de-commissioned after a little over a decade of service. There followed a short commercial career before being purchased by the Pride of Bristol Trust in 1994.
The Pride of Bristol Trust was established out of the Bristol Channel Group of the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service Old Comrades Association (RNXS OCA). In addition to the RNXS, membership includes ex-Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Merchant Navy personnel and from many other walks of life.
The vessel provided a means whereby members could use their training and experience to provide a useful service to the local community and charities, and in the maintenance of the ship.
Underprivileged and special needs groups were assisted, as were local schools and cadet/scout organisations providing sea going, firefighting, ship and boat handling, first aid and general team building experiences. Pride of Bristol also provided a platform for the New Entry Training for the RNR for a period.
To fund the charity, revenue raising voyages were undertaken with the vessel being hired for diving, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and sightseeing days and weekends. Pride of Bristol also provided a platform for social events to assist other charities and Naval Groups.
The Pride of Bristol Trustees looked ahead and reluctantly decided that the Trust could no longer see a long-term operational future for the vessel in Bristol due to financial issues and the ever-increasing age and reducing numbers of active crew members.
Now 40 years old, Pride of Bristol has been donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy as a fully operational sea going vessel, and she has now arrived in her new home port of Hartlepool.
With her name reverting to MV Messina, it is understood that she will undertake similar community work to that carried out as Pride of Bristol over the past 25 years. The Pride of Bristol Trust offer Messina and her new owners and crew their best wishes at the start of the New Era in the life of HMFT Messina.