HMS Southampton, the eighth of the Type 42 guided missile destroyers, was making her debut (she was commissioned on 31 October 1971) and among her early visitors was one Ted Woods, son of Albert Woods, ‘the sailor who returned from the dead.’
Leading Seaman Albert Woods had been in the cruiser HMS Southampton at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and was presumed dead after the fearsome battle of 31 May.
However, much to the joy of his family it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity – he was one of seven Woods in the ship – and he was very much alive for another 58 years.
Albert always said his time in Southampton was the happiest of his Naval service, and before his death he asked his family to make an appropriate presentation if there was ever a new HMS Southampton built.
So it was that Albert’s son, Ted, a rigger in Portsmouth Dockyard, presented a silver galley tray to the CO of the new Southampton, Capt Garth de Courcy-Ireland, who received it on behalf of the new ship.