Sun sets on Tamar base for last time
By PAUL TYRRELL
THE Royal Navy last night severed its 142-year-old link with Hongkong Island when its HMS Tamar headquarters left Central.
A crowd of 500 guests and service personnel watched as the Senior Services' White Ensign flag was lowered for the last time.
But missing from the ceremony was the Commander-in-Chief of the British Garrison, the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, who decided to attend the Hongkong Journalists' Association ball instead.
Officials from China, who have criticised the $350 million relocation, were not invited.
The Royal Marines Band, flown into Hongkong for the occasion, played the hymn Sunset as the flag was lowered.
A chorus of Rule Britannia was struck up as the flag was folded away.
HMS Peacock then left its mooring for the last time and sailed out on the evening duty patrol. The vessel and the navy's two other patrol craft will be based at Stonecutters Island from today.
A garrison spokesman said 95 per cent of the navy's 490 service personnel had transferred to the new base, which becomes HMS Tamar.
Naval personnel will still make up part of the Joint Services Intelligence Staff on the 10th floor of the Prince of Wales building.
Tamar shifted to Stonecutters to make way for the Central and Wan Chai reclamation project.
The Captain in Charge Hongkong Captain Tom Sunter said: ''There is inevitably a nostalgic feel to the evening, but the White Ensign is still flying in Hongkong.''