FAMILIES gathered to wave off their loved ones as HMS Kent left Portsmouth to spend six months at sea.
The Type 23 frigate is being deployed on maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean.
Family and friends braved the wet and windy conditions to stand near the Round Tower and wave flags as HMS Kent left the city yesterday morning.
Ruth Collin, 28, from Lee-on-the-Solent, was bidding farewell to her husband, Physical training instructor Joe Collin. She brought along their two children Maximus, four, and Betsy, 18 months.
Ruth said: ‘It’s our last chance to say goodbye and wave the ship off.
‘This is only the second time since we’ve been together and it’s the first time since the children have been born.
‘It’s hard, especially with the children.
‘But I’m really proud and it’s all for a good reason.’
Denise Smith, 56, from Hill Head was saying goodbye to her son Leading Seaman Matthew Smith, 30.
She said: ‘I have mixed feelings about it. I am proud of him. But this has been the worst time because I am so emotional.’
Simon Waller and wife Kate travelled from Loughborough to see off their son, engineering technician (marine engineering) Sam Waller, 25.
They left home at 3am to ensure they were able to see the ship off.
Simon, 54, said: ‘It’s his first deployment. We wouldn’t have missed this one. We are very proud that he’s in the navy.’
Kate, 52, added: ‘It’s quite emotional but we are excited for him. It’s his dream come true.’
Philip Garnett-Clarke, 62, and wife Linda, 61, travelled from Evesham to see off their son, Petty Officer Richard Garnett-Clarke.
Philip said: ‘It’s the first time we have seen him off. We’ve always seen him come back. It’s emotional but we are immensely proud.
‘We are proud of what he does and how he’s got on in the navy.’
HMS Kent will keep up the Royal Navy’s presence east of Suez as she replaces HMS Northumberland.