Slipping out of the harbour in the early morning, there was nothing remarkable about HMS Protector’s exit from Portsmouth.
For the small group of people gathered on top of the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth, however, it was a chance to wave goodbye to their loved ones.
And for the city of Portsmouth, it was the last time the ship will leave its waters for a deployment.
The Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship is off on a double deployment to the frozen continent of Antarctica.
When she returns, in the spring of 2015, HMS Protector will call Devonport in Plymouth her home.
But for those on the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth yesterday morning, it was business as usual.
David Roach, 30, from Gosport, was there with Max, six, Molly, four, and Anya, four, pictured left, to wave goodbye to Leading Medical Assistant Kirsty Roach, 28.
David, who also serves in the navy and is based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, said: ‘It’s a bit of a role reversal for us as I’m usually the one going away.
‘It’s going to be more of a challenge looking after three children than being on the ship.
‘I’m proud of her but she’s nervous about being away from the kids but she is looking forward to it.
‘We managed to spot her on the ship as it went past so we could wave at her.
‘If it wasn’t for the teachers’ strike today, the kids wouldn’t have been able to wave goodbye.’
As reported in The News, HMS Protector will be staying in Antarctica for two consecutive deployments, although her crew will change.
It is the ship’s first deployment since being bought by the Ministry of Defence last month to replace HMS Endurance.
During Protector’s deployment, she will conduct surveys and patrols on behalf of the UK Hydrographic Office, British Antarctic Survey, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Once of the ship’s key tasks is to ensure countries signed up to the Antarctic Treaty are meeting their obligations and meeting the strict environmental guidelines.
· Video footage by LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson.