IT WILL be a ground-breaking deployment in more ways than one.
Sailors on board Portsmouth-based HMS Lancaster set sail today for a nine-month deployment to the Atlantic having already racked up three entries in the history book.
The Type 23 frigate today becomes the first ship to head off on operations with the new Wildcat helicopter.
Her ship’s company are the first to deploy wearing the newest naval uniform in 70 years and she also takes with her the first Royal Marine chef to ply his trade on the ocean waves rather than on dry land. Lancaster’s commanding officer, Commander Peter Laughton, said: ‘In many ways it’s a ground-breaking deployment for the Royal Navy, as we are taking new capabilities and equipment on operations for the first time.
‘The ship’s new Wildcat helicopter is state of the art and will become the Royal Navy’s primary maritime aircraft.
‘The ship’s company is kitted out in a new uniform designed for additional comfort and to cope better with the temperature extremes of the areas in which we may be tasked to operate.
‘We also have a Royal Marine chef fully integrated into our ship’s company for the first time in naval history.’
The Wildcat is the latest generation of multi-role helicopter for the Royal Navy.
Meanwhile the new uniform has replaced the action working dress known as No4s – the traditional lighter-blue shirt and trousers worn by sailors at sea – and is the first major change to naval dress since the Second World War.
The clothing which is now dark blue, more modern, comfortable and fire retardant can be adapted to different climates.
It offers more protection from flash fires and carries more Royal Navy branding, notably a large White Ensign on the left shoulder.
And earlier this week Corporal Liam Eley, 35, became the first Royal Marine chef to join the crew of a Royal Navy warship since the Corps formed in 1664.
His chance to join a ship is due to the recent merger of chef branches in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.