MORE than 800 people toured the Royal Navy ship HMS Clyde as it prepared to leave Scotland for the Falklands.
People from Greenock took the opportunity to visit the patrol vessel during the four days it was docked in the town before the ship left the area after which it was named. Families waved the ship off yesterday as she left for Portsmouth where she will undergo final preparations for her mission in the South Atlantic. The 80-metre ship, launched last year, will patrol the Falkland Islands from August. However Clyde's captain, Lieutenant Commander Simon Hopper, said the vessel would keep her ties with Scotland. He said: "We've had a great visit to Inverclyde and have made friends with whom we hope to keep in contact once we get to the South Atlantic. "We had 770 people visit us in just one day and it shows people are interested in the Royal Navy and what we do." Schools, youth groups and a delegation from Inverclyde Council, including Provost Michael McCormack, were also given tours and were at the town's Customs House Quay to say goodbye to HMS Clyde yesterday. Most of Clyde's 40-strong crew are from England, but for Leading Engineering Technician Gordon Jack' Russell, 29, from Dumbarton, the trip north was a visit home. The former Dumbarton Academy pupil is one of three Scots on the ship, and the only one from the west of Scotland. He said: "It will be my second visit to the Falklands as I've served on HMS Leeds Castle, one of the ships HMS Clyde is replacing. I'm really looking forward to going back again and seeing all the things I missed out on the first time. "I joined the service after seeing photos of my grandfather in the navy and from listening to his tales and I decided that I wanted to do the same." The Clyde is expected to remain permanently on patrol in the Falklands. She is the latest vessel to bear the historic river's name. The first HMS Clyde was a 38-gun frigate, launched in 1796. The second, another frigate, was launched in 1824. The most recent HMS Clyde was a submarine which was launched in 1934 and served in the Second World War. by Chris Musson Evening Times