Duke of Edinburgh sends best wishes to HMS Magpie

The Duke of Edinburgh gave his blessing yesterday as the name of a ship he once commanded was resurrected after nearly 60 years.

New survey ship HMS Magpie was formally welcomed into the Naval family in her home of Devonport yesterday afternoon.

Among the Commanding Officers of the previous Magpie was the Duke of Edinburgh, who was in charge of the sloop/frigate between 1950 and 1952 in the Mediterranean.

A message from the 97-year-old was read out to crew, friends and family of the new ship during today’s commissioning ceremony:
“Having had the honor of commanding the Anti-Submarine frigate HMS Magpie, based in Malta soon after the War, I am delighted to know that the name ‘Magpie’ has been revived for a new Royal Navy Survey Ship.

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to offer my best wishes to the new ship’s company for a happy and rewarding commission.”

Today’s Magpie is the newest addition to the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic squadron, replacing veteran survey ship HMS Gleaner, which paid off earlier this year in Plymouth after 35 years’ service.

Lieutenant Commander William Alexander, HMS Magpie’s first Commanding Officer and Gleaner’s last, said, “It was a great feeling when we brought HMS Magpie into her base port for the first time last week and we are very much looking forward to joining the Fleet.

“The ship’s primary role will be in maintaining the integrity of coastal waters, ensuring safety of navigation and the resilience of key national infrastructure in UK ports. With an enduring presence around the UK, she will also contribute to national security at sea.

“This is an important milestone in her generation and we have all been very much looking forward to taking part in the Commissioning ceremony today.”

The ship’s company marched on to the parade to the strains of Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band of Plymouth playing the traditional Royal Navy tune of Heart of Oak.

Following the ceremony a commissioning cake was cut by AB(HM) Ryan Payne, who is the youngest sailor on board, along with Mrs Teresa Gardner who is the wife of Real Admiral Chris Gardner, Assistant Chief Naval Staff (Ships).

HMS Magpie is an 18-metre catamaran and will soon begin providing an essential survey and underwater survey capability. She is the first vessel to be delivered under a contract negotiated by Defence Equipment and support with Atlas Elektronik UK Ltd.

HMS Magpie is the only ship of her type in the RN and is highly capable. She has on board the latest high-resolution, shallow-water multi-beam echo sounder and side-scan sonar and has the ability to launch remote-controlled underwater devices to search wide areas of the sea bed for obstructions and mines.