An HMS Sheffield will once again grace the seas after the city was awarded the distinction of having a fourth warship named in its honour.
One of the Royal Navy’s new fleet of submarine hunter Type 26 frigates, being built to protect Britain’s aircraft carriers and its nuclear deterrent, Trident, will bear the city's name.
Defence minister Stuart Andrew praised the city’s ‘noble’ naval history and its manufacturing ‘excellence’ which helps equip Britain’s armed forces, as he made the announcement after touring Chesterfield Special Cylinders near Meadowhall.
The naming follows a lengthy campaign by former Sheffield lord mayor Councillor Anne Murphy, which was backed by The Star.
It maintains the proud naval tradition of a city which, despite being landlocked, has played a crucial role in the nation’s military prowess at sea.
Mr Andrew said: “The contribution this city’s engineering excellence has brought to our navy is something we’re very proud of….
“The previous HMS Sheffields have a noble history and the fourth will continue that tradition….
“Defence boosts the economy of Yorkshire and the Humber economy by £232 million every year and it’s only right the region’s significant contribution to our national security is recognised by the naming of HMS Sheffield.”
HMS Sheffield will be the sixth of the eight new frigates to be built, the first three of which have been ordered at a cost of £3.7 billion.
The first ships are scheduled to enter service from the mid-2020s but it is not known at this stage when the new HMS Sheffield will take to the water.
Sheffield’s steel industry has built and equipped numerous vessels for the Royal Navy, which continues to rely on the city's evolving engineering expertise, and many of the crew members who proudly serve on board them hail from the region.
The name HMS Sheffield is indelibly linked with tragedy, after the second ship was hit by an Argentine missile during the Falklands War in 1982, killing 20 people.
Veterans from that ship are among those who pay their respects each May at a memorial service held in Sheffield Cathedral.
The first HMS Sheffield, launched in 1936, was nicknamed The Shiny Sheff due to the profusion of stainless steel adorning her body.
It became one of the navy’s most decorated ships, notching 12 battle honours during the Second World War, protecting convoys and playing a major role in sinking the German battleship Bismarck.
The third ship to be named after the city was launched in 1986 and served until 2002, before being decommissioned and sold to Chile.
Chesterfield Special Cylinders, which is located beside the M1 near Meadowhall and manufactures high-pressure gas storage systems, has supplied the navy for more than a century and will help equip the new fleet of frigates.
Stephen Butler, the firm's director of integrity management, described the naming of the next HMS Sheffield as another boon for the region's steel and wider manufacturing industry.
"A few years ago, there seemed to be a real downturn in the region's steel industry but now we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
"I think the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which is doing fantastic work, has been a big part of that.
"The whole Sheffield steel industry is on the up again and we should be proud of that."
Commodore Phil Waterhouse, the Royal Nay’s regional commander for the north, said: "It's a great day for Sheffield, a great day for Yorkshire and a great day for the Royal Navy, because it's confirmation we're getting another of these very, very capable ships to deliver defence and protection for the country over the coming decades.
"The manner in which Sheffield has lobbied for a new ship speaks volumes about what it means to the city.
"There's a rich history with the previous ships of wartime experience, and their contribution to the UK as a whole is recognised and celebrated by the city.
"For too long, in my opinion, we've been without an HMS Sheffield, so to see it come back brings me particular joy as a proud Yorkshireman.”
The new frigates will replace their Type 23 predecessors as what the Ministry of Defence calls the ‘workhorse of the fleet’, equipped to carry out missions ranging from combat and counter piracy to disaster relief.
They will boast weapons including a vertical launch missile silo and a five-inch main gun, along with the new Sea Ceptor anti-air missile system, and their flight decks will be large enough to accommodate the RAF’s Chinook helicopters.
Tanzy Lee, who served on the second HMS Sheffield, and is a member of the HMS Sheffield Association, welcomed the announcement.
“It’s absolutely fantastic knowing the line of succession is continuing. It’s a well-deserved award, which will really make our Christmas,” he said.
“This will further cement our relationship with Sheffield, where we’ve always been made to feel special thanks to the warmth of its people.”
John Galway, who was on board when the second HMS Sheffield was hit and sustained a nasty gash to his head, was also thrilled by the news.
“This is great news for the people of Sheffield, who have always been very proud of the past ships,” said the 59-year-old, who lives near Portsmouth.
“I was in the city recently for a reunion, wearing my HMS Sheffield shirt, and lots of people came up to me and said how happy they were to see their Sheffield boys back.
“I’m sure the people of Sheffield will take the new ship to their heart and if the crew get anything like the reception we used to get when we were in town it will be very special for them.”
”I can’t speak for the families of the crew members killed in the Falklands but I think they would welcome the announcement as it shows their loved ones haven’t been forgotten.”
Although none of the previous HMS Sheffields has ever been based in the city from which the ships take their name, for obvious reasons, there has always been a strong bond between the crew and those living here.
Cadets and other schoolchildren from the city have previously been invited on board to learn more about the vessel’s inner workings and what life on the waves is like, and the ships’ crew have supported local charities and participated in parades.
It is also viewed as a great advert for the city’s technological achievements, which extend well beyond the specialist steel manufacturing for which Sheffield is renowned.
The third ship carried a display extolling the products made in Sheffield and the surrounding region, which was used when hosting receptions on board.
Sheffield will join Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, London and Newcastle in lending their names to the new fleet, with the final city to get that honour yet to be announced.
HMS Sheffield I (C24) – Town-class light cruiser
Length: 180.3 metres
Displacement: 9,100 tonnes
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h)
Weaponry: 12 six-inch guns, eight four-inch guns, six torpedo tubes
Battle honours: 12
HMS Sheffield II (D80) – Type 42 destroyer
Length: 125 metres
Displacement: 4,820 tonnes
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Weaponry: Two Sea Dart surface-to-air missile launchers, one 4.5-inch gun
Aircraft: Lynx HAS1
Battle honours: 1
HMS Sheffield III (F96) – Type 22 frigate
Length: 148.1 metres
Displacement: 4,100 tonnes
Speed: 30.2 knots (56 km/h)
Aircraft: Two Lynx helicopters
Weaponry: Exocet (surface-to-surface) and Seawolf (point defence)
HMS Sheffield IIII – Type 26 frigate
Launch date: TBC
Length 149.9 metres
Displacement 6,900 tonnes
Speed: 26+ knots
Range: in excess of 7,000 nautical miles
Weaponry: vertical launch missile silo, five-inch main gun, Sea Ceptor anti-air missile system