THE captain of HMS Liverpool spoke of his pride as the Portsmouth-based warship sailed for Libya.
The Type 42 destroyer is heading to the Mediterranean to enforce a naval blockade as part of Nato’s Operation Unified Protector.
Liverpool’s captain, Commander Colin Williams told The News: ‘There’s a huge amount of pride to be called to go in there.
‘The ship’s company are upbeat and ready to go.
‘There is a degree of anticipation and of course some reservations about what we will face when we get there. But the ship has been prepared for a year for high-readiness tasking and we’re delighted to be on our way to help with the Nato mission.’
Taking his ship to a warzone will be a career highlight for Cdr Williams, who lives in Havant.
He said: ‘It’s what every destroyer captain would want to do. This is what you train for all your life – the opportunity to go and put into practice all that training.’
Liverpool left Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday. She will relieve the frigate HMS Cumberland, which is due to return home to Plymouth to be decommissioned after a month operating off Libya.
News of Liverpool’s departure came as delegates from across the world met in London to discuss Libya’s future.
Addressing the conference, Prime Minister David Cameron urged the international community to deliver a ‘new beginning’ for the Libyan people.
It emerged this morning that Liverpool will now be the only Royal Navy surface ship enforcing the Libyan arms embargo after Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Westminster was ordered home.
She spent four weeks operating off the Libyan coast, supplying humanitarian aid and helping to enforce the United Nations resolution to keep Colonel Gaddafi’s air force grounded and naval units holed up in their ports.
The ship’s captain, Commander Tim Green said: ‘I had the rules of engagement along with all the other units operating under the Security Council resolution to close in, engage them and destroy them.
‘They knew that if they were to step outside there would be forces that would deal with them.’
Westminster is now in Malta stocking up for her journey back to Portsmouth.
A navy spokesman said HMS Cumberland will leave Libya ‘late April’ once Liverpool arrives in the area to take over enforcing the arms embargo.
Cumberland, which is being axed in the government defence cuts announced last Autumn, has been on station off Libya more than a month – carrying out three evacuations and conducting searches for Libyan warships.