PLOUGHING through seas whipped up by a monsoon storm, HMS Iron Duke and St Albans performed a traditional sail past in the Indian Ocean as one Portsmouth-based frigate handed over Gulf duties to another.
The two ships saluted each other with jets of water, banners of encouragement and quite a few sailors in fancy dress.
Iron Duke is now heading the 6,000 miles back home after five months on patrol in the Middle East.
It has been the ship’s first patrol in that part of the world despite being in service for nearly 20 years – but it spanned a momentous period for international relations.
In addition to the events sweeping North Africa and Middle East, the Royal Navy’s mission in Iraq came to an end after nearly a decade.
It fell to Iron Duke to conduct the last British patrol of Iraq’s oil platforms which are the mainstay of the country’s economy and have been the raison d’être for Royal Navy deployments to the Gulf since 2003.
St Albans, which recently saved the lives of 13 mariners from a sinking tanker off Oman, is on a new counter-terrorism and anti-piracy mission called Operation Kipion.