HMS St Albans sets sail for nine-month deployment in the Middle East

HMS St Albans sails for the Middle East Picture: Robin Jones
HMS St Albans sails for the Middle East Picture: Robin Jones
HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth for the first time to go on sea trials

Picture: Malcolm Wells (171030-0346)

Commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth says jets on the carrier will be ‘final piece of the puzzle’

  • The Type 23 frigate was delayed by two hours due to engineering fault
  • Round Tower packed with people showing support
  • Ship will police the seas
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SCORES of families, friends and well-wishers lined the Round Tower to see off a naval ship.

HMS St Albans set sail for the Middle East to begin a nine-month deployment.

The Type 23 frigate will continue the work that her sister ship, HMS Richmond, carried out earlier this year as part of the Royal Navy’s long-term presence east of Suez.

She was due to leave at 11am today, but the departure was put back to 3pm because of engineering problems.

Paul Stone, 53, and his wife Sharon, 50, came from Burton-on-Trent to see their daughter Katie, 21, set sail as a steward.

Mr Stone said: ‘We are extremely proud of Katie – this will be a massive life experience for her.

‘It was very emotional and I had a few tears running down my face, but we are just so proud. It was so great to see so many other people come and show their support.’

Despite it being a windy morning, many came with mini Great Britain flags and posters to hold up.

Lisa Powley, 48, and her daughter Megan Lucas, 26, and grandaughter Gabriella, four, came from London, to wave goodbye to James Powley. The 24-year-old is a seaman specialist and is also on his first deployment.

Lisa said: ‘We’re nervous but excited for him.

‘There was a brilliant turn out and we made some posters to wave off Jimmy.’

People waiting to see the ship were offered a free coffee and bacon rolls at the Cockleshell Community Centre, in Henderson Road, while the departure time was confirmed.

Joanna Moore, 58, came from Scarborough, to see off her son Joshua Parrott, 27, who is a weapons engineer.

She said: ‘This is Joshua’s first deployment and we are going to miss him loads, but we are very proud of him.

‘We were advised to come down early as the area gets busy, so we got a good spot to see the ship sail by.

‘It was great to see so many families here.’

St Albans’ task is to police the seas and promote UK interests in the region by acting as a deterrent to illegal activity, safeguarding allied and merchant shipping and helping to ensure that global trade can proceed.