Bristling with new technology after a multi-million pound upgrade, HMS Iron Duke is off to test her kit in all climates.
The Type 23 frigate sailed from Portsmouth yesterday morning for a six-month deployment across the Atlantic.
Her ship’s company have packed kit for both tropical weather and freezing temperatures as they expect to visit both northern and southern hemispheres — experiencing summer and winter in three months.
Leading Seaman John Haslam is one of the ship’s operations room supervisors.
He said: ‘This trip is going to be amazing.
‘I’ll be going to some places I’d never visit.
‘I’ve had to pack loads of extra kit because we’re going tropical as well as freezing on the same deployment.’
Yesterday families packed the Round Tower and the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth to wave goodbye to their loved ones for six months.
Rosemary White, 47, of Broad Street in Old Portsmouth, was there to bid farewell to the ship.
She said: ‘I don’t know anybody on board but I always think it’s a wonderful sight.
‘It must be difficult for the people who are left behind but you can see they obviously feel very proud.’
The deployment is the first for HMS Iron Duke since undergoing a major upgrade.
She is the first Royal Navy warship to be fitted with Artisan — a new 3D radar which is billed as being five times better than the one it replaces.
During her six months away, the warship will be working with partner nations to develop their armed forces’ abilities to protect their own waters.
She may be called upon to lend assistance in the wake of humanitarian disasters or tackle piracy on the high seas.
The ship’s company recently went through Flag Officer Sea Training in Plymouth, which prepared her crew of 180 sailors for every eventuality.
Their training taught them to deal with displaced populations in the event of a humanitarian disaster, evacuees, hospital forces and visiting dignitaries along with their regular war fighting practice.
For many of the ship’s company, this deployment will be their first lengthy sea time away from home.
They are expected to return some time in December.
· Photographs by L(Phot) Alex Knott, LA(Phot) Keith Morgan and Lt Cdr Shamus Roster