VETERAN crew members joined in celebrations yesterday marking the 60th anniversary of the launch of Royal Yacht Britannia.
The ship was built by workers at John Brown shipyard in Clydebank and was launched on the Clyde on 16 April 1953.
Exactly six decades on, the historic moment was celebrated in a ceremony attended by the boat’s longest-serving yachtsman.
Ellis “Norrie” Norrell, a “yachtie” for 34 years, raised a specially commissioned flag in honour of all those who served on board the floating palace.
The Britannia is now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh, hosting around 300,000 visitors a year.
Mr Norrell, 79, from the Portsmouth area, began his working life on board the yacht as an able seaman and rose through the ranks to become warrant officer.
Also at the ceremony was Allan Paterson, 67, originally from Glasgow, who was just seven when he watched Britannia being lowered into the water for the first time.
Recalling the launch day, he said: “It was very exciting but quite terrifying for a youngster because once the ship started to leave the stocks and slide down, the great pile of drag chains which are there to restrain it made a tremendous noise and a great cloud of dust.
It was the first time Mr Paterson, who now lives in Edinburgh,had set foot on the yacht and he said:“If they keep it in that condition for another 60 years, that would be tremendous.”
Britannia sailed more than a million nautical miles and calling at over 600 ports.