ROYAL NAVY mine hunters HMS Ramsey and HMS Blyth were formally decommissioned during a ceremony at Rosyth Dockyard.

Dozens of affiliates and friends gave the vessels a fitting send-off and recalled their work in protecting the country over a 20-year period of service.

The Sandown class ships spent much of their operational lives abroad, working with international partners, mainly in the Middle East and Baltic regions.

HMS Ramsey left her home port for the final time in August last year, sailing to Rosyth where she has undergone work to prepare her for formal decommissioning.

Sister ship HMS Blyth left later, sailing from the Clyde on July 14 this year.

Lieutenant Commander Joel Roberts said: "As the final commanding officer of HMS Ramsey I have the honour and privilege to be here as we say goodbye to a great ship.

"HMS Ramsey has given 21 years of operational service to the Royal Navy and throughout her life it has been the members of her ship’s company, the people, who have made her what she is.

“It is time to say farewell to a ship that has been both a home and a way of life to so many.”

During the ceremony, sailors from Ramsey and Blyth formed a guard of honour, with HMS Blyth flying her decommissioning pennant and members of the Royal Marine Band Plymouth providing a musical backdrop.

There was also a short service led by Reverend Martin Evan, deputy chaplain of the fleet, as well as speeches from the senior naval officers.

During her 21 years of service, HMS Ramsey sailed over 175,000 miles and completed numerous operational deployments, principally in the Arabian Gulf in support of UK and coalition operations, and in the Baltic Sea region in support of NATO.

HMS Blyth has sailed over 185,000 miles during her 20-year career, completing around seven years of operational service in the Gulf. She was also regularly deployed with the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Groups 1 and 2 in the Baltic, North Sea and the Mediterranean, as well as operating in UK waters.

Blyth and her crew worked right up to the end, most recently on coalition operations in the Middle East, as well as a deployed period in the Baltic and national tasking along the UK coast.

Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Simon Henderson said: “The whole crew are immensely proud of what this ship has achieved in its lifetime and particularly over the last few years.

"Our final entry into Rosyth will be a sad one and it will bring to an end the ship’s life under Royal Navy command, but we reflect on the many achievements that we have accomplished together, and we look forward to new opportunities to come."

The ship’s parent-squadron is currently undertaking trials which will help shape the future of mine hunting operations, known as Project Wilton.

Both Ramsey and Blyth will undergo some further work at Rosyth Dockyard before they are sold to Ukraine as part of an agreement to boost Ukraine’s naval capabilities.