FLAGS waved and crowds cheered as Portsmouth-based warship HMS Edinburgh left for a seven-month deployment in the South Atlantic.
There were tears and smiles from relatives who gathered at the Round Tower, in Old Portsmouth, to wave goodbye as the Type 42 destroyer set off to patrol the Falklands and South Georgia.
The ship will stop at the Cape Verde Islands and a variety of countries off the west coast of Africa before arriving at her destination later this summer.
George Newlands, 60, of Old Garden Close, in Locks Heath, watched his 27-year-old son Kristoffer sail away on his first deployment.
‘To be honest I’m envious,’ he said.
‘He’s going to see the world and visit so many incredible places, I wish I was going as well.
‘Of course it will be hard work but he has been looking forward to it, and I look forward to seeing him come back.
‘He was a late starter but now he absolutely loves it.’
More reluctant to see the ship leave was Raluca Vinson, 30, of Finch Road in Southsea, who had tears in her eyes as she waved goodbye to her husband, 37-year-old Petty Officer Philip Vinson.
‘It is the first time I have come down to say goodbye like this and it is very sad,’ she said.
‘He told me the time would go in a flash, but six months seems like a very long time to me. I’m just hoping he comes back in one piece – I don’t want it to change him.’
HMS Edinburgh will eventually take part in high-profile visits to South America, the Caribbean and the USA when its mission is completed.
Waving a huge Union flag was Amanda Adams, 46, who had travelled from North Devon to see her 19-year-old son William off on his first deployment.
She said: ‘I’m feeling better than I thought I would, he’s been looking forward to it which helps.
‘Though I think that might be more to do with the journey than what he has to do when he gets there.
‘It was a marvellous sight to see it sailing away in the sunshine.’