Another of the Royal Navy’s old guard has passed into history, with the decommissioning of HMS Gloucester on 30 June. The Type 42 destroyer will be best remembered for the first successful missile versus missile engagement of its kind in combat at sea. The action came during the Gulf War in January 1991 when she shot down an Iraqi Seersucker missile targeted at the American battleship USS Missouri with a salvo of Sea Dart missiles. Gloucester’s Lynx helicopter was also in the thick of action, attacking seven Iraqi naval ships with Sea Skua missiles.
The ship saw action of a different kind during the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006 as the first Royal Navy vessel to evacuate British nationals from Beirut, making three round trips to carry Britons to safety in Cyprus. During 29 years’ service the ship clocked up nearly 788,000 miles.