Ta ta, Tiverton... HMS Enterprise says farewell to her 'home' town

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Enterprise

The people of Tiverton bade farewell to their ship – Royal Navy survey vessel HMS Enterprise – as crew paraded through the Devon town for the last time.

The people of Tiverton bade farewell to their ship – Royal Navy survey vessel HMS Enterprise – as crew paraded through the Devon town for the last time.

Led by the Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Lympstone and joined by 30 Sea Cadets from the town’s unit TS Hermes, all 42 members of the ship’s company took part in the final Freedom parade, exercising an honour the Plymouth-based vessel has enjoyed for most of her 20-year career.

For 90 minutes, they brought military pomp and ceremony to the small Devonshire market town on a late winter’s afternoon, marching to and from the town’s Pannier market hall.

Enterprise has been bound with Tiverton since she was still under construction at the Appledore yard in north Devon in 2002 and awarded the town council’s highest civic honour in 2005. 

Returning the Freedom scroll to Tiverton’s leaders, an emotional Commanding Officer Commander Malcolm McCallum said: “Tiverton is effectively our home. This is our final opportunity to pay back the support which the town has given us over the years.  

“It is a poignant time in the ship’s history as we move nearer to our decommissioning later this month, but it’s worth remembering that it’s the people on the ship now – and all those who have served on HMS Enterprise – who enjoy this special bond with the town as well.”

Petty Officer Craig Dearie who carried the Colours through Tiverton added: “We are a small community of sailors on our ship. Tiverton is a similar small community in Devon, and we grow and get along in our own ways.”

“For me, this was a very proud moment and playing such an important role made it even more special. It was a great chance for the town to see us and for us to get to know the people of Tiverton.”

Tiverton’s Mayor Councillor Sue Griggs – who was among affiliates hosted by HMS Enterprise for a final day at sea last week off Plymouth – said townsfolk had been proud to share the ship’s journey and adventures over the past two decades.

“Everyone in Tiverton thinks it’s wonderful to have a Royal Navy warship affiliated with the town – we are quite proud of that fact,” she added.

“A lot of people talk about HMS Enterprise and it’s surprising how many people are proud to have this association.”

Commissioned in 2003, the current Enterprise is the tenth in the Royal Navy to bear the name going back to 1705. 

Her role as a survey vessel has taken her to the four corners of the globe – to Japan and the Pacific Rim, in the heat of the Gulf and Middle east, the icy waters of Norway and the High North, as far south as the Falklands, and especially in the Mediterranean and European waters. 

Aside from her regular hydrographic duties – which included surveying Beirut harbour in the wake of the explosion which devastated their docks in August 2020 – Enterprise evacuated civilians from Libya amid civil unrest in 2014 and spent extensive periods supporting the international operation to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean, which earned the ship the military’s highest peace prize, the Firmin Sword. 

Enterprise will decommission in Portsmouth later this month. She and her sister HMS Echo are being replaced by the Navy’s Future Military Data Gathering

Programme being introduced over the next 18 months, deploying specialist teams with state-of-the-art equipment, including drones and autonomous systems, on other vessels – including commercial ships – to gather the relevant information