ROYAL Navy sailors set sail from Portsmouth on a seven-month mission to tackle drug smugglers in the Atlantic.
A small team on HMS Mersey left the city yesterday morning on the deployment, which will see them targeting the narcotic smugglers in the Caribbean.
Their proud families rallied at the Round Tower to wave goodbye to the men and women on the patrol ship.
Aimee Palmer was there with her three children, Jamie, 11, Louis, seven and Henry, two, to say goodbye to her husband Jamie, 34, who is Mersey’s chief marine engineer.
The 30-year-old from Gosport said: ‘It’s going to be hard not to have him with us but I’m really proud of the work they’re doing.’
Son Jamie added: ‘I’m really proud of my dad. It’s sad he is going away but I know he will be back soon.’
Chief Petty Officer Ross Binns, 29, of Portsmouth, was saying goodbye to his wife Able Seaman Amy Binns.
He knows the challenges the ship’s company will face, having served in the navy for several years and been on a number of deployments.
CPO Binns, who waved his wife goodbye with their four-year-old son Ethan, said: ‘It’s definitely hard but you are busy all day every day..
‘But it will definitely be harder for Amy because she is a mother.
‘She said she was feeling sick at the thought of leaving Ethan.’
CPO Binns, who met his wife while they were serving aboard HMS Illustrious added: ‘I’m really proud of her. It will be a case of work hard and play hard. They have a very important job to do.’
As well providing maritime security to the region, Mersey will also offer support in the event that a humanitarian crisis strikes.
Trained personnel will be able to go ashore to assess any damage caused by natural disasters as well as organise any supply drops that might be needed.
On top of this, the ship also has the capacity to make ten tonnes of fresh water per day and can embark shipping containers of aid and equipment if required.
Mersey’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Richie Hewitt, said: ‘This will be a busy and exciting deployment for Mersey and her ship’s company.
‘Over the past few months we’ve worked hard to train and prepare the ship and we are ready for the wide variety of tasks that may be required of us.’