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HELLO, CARDIFF, AND GOODBYE!

Byline: By REBECCA BLUNT AND DAVID JAMES South Wales Echo

A small but excited crowd gathered today to witness HMS Cardiff sailing into its home city for the last time. Children were among about 60 spectators lined up along Britannia Quay in Cardiff Bay to watch the defence destroyer dock.

HMS Cardiff, which played a role in the Falklands and the first Gulf War, is being decommissioned after 26 years.

Although heavy clouds threatened, the rain held off as the 412-ft ship sailed into the quay. There was an alarming moment when the tug, towing HMS Cardiff through the dock entrance, misjudged the gap, scraping the ship's side on the dock wall. But the neatly lined- up rows of sailors didn't flinch and soon the ship was straight again.

Watching was former weapons engineer Glyn Willacott, who was on the ship between 1982 and 1985.

'It was a good ship to be on,' said Glyn, 55, from Rumney, Cardiff.

'I have come into Cardiff three times on her and today will be something I'll always remember.

'It's hopefully not the last time I'll see the ship as the Royal Navy Association is trying to get her here permanently.'

Also waiting was seven-year-old Declan Kerswell, from Adamsdown, Cardiff, with mum Donna and grandmother, Maureen. 'I like ships and I want to be in the Navy when I'm older,' said Declan.

Susan Gilvoy, and her mum Jean Drinkwater were also lined up waiting to see Susan's son Steven, 19, a stoker on board the ship.

'He loves it,' said Susan, from St Athan. 'He's been in the Navy four months. I think he's going on HMS Edinburgh next.'

James Brown, 24, from Merthyr Tydfil, a stores accountant on HMS Cardiff, was waiting on the quayside to join the crew.

'I have only been on Cardiff since June 20, but it's a good ship,' said James.: THE SHIP'S ITINERARY:Tonight 7.30pm: S4C to broadcast from the ship; 8pm: dinner party. Tomorrow 10am to 4pm: HMS Cardiff open to visitors; 6pm: sea cadets visit. Friday 6am to 10am: Red Dragon FM radio broadcasts live from the ship's deck; 6.30pm to 8pm: official cocktail party; 7.30pm: Royal Marines band Beat the Retreat on the jetty. Saturday 10.45am to 11.45am: March from Cardiff Castle to Bute Gardens; Noon to 2pm: Lord Mayor's civic reception for ship's company; 2pm to 5pm: Ship open to visitors. Sunday 11am to 11.45am: Drumhead ceremony on Cooper's Field with 10 members of the ship's company; 3pm: Providing the guard for the National Assembly's closing ceremony. Monday 10am and 1pm: visits to the ship; 7.30pm: Onboard reception. Tuesday 10.15am: Departs Cardiff for decommissioning.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 6, 2005
Words:449
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