WAITING to see their loved ones for a final time, wives, girlfriends, children and even pets stood out in the bracing sea wind this morning.
HMS Brocklesby set sail at around 10.15am on Wednesday for a four-month NATO mission in the Mediterranean.
Emotional goodbyes had been made before around a dozen people made their way up to the top of the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth to wave off their family members.
Hazel Hibbs, 30, managed to get 15-month-old Jake’s pushchair up to the top of the tower. It was the first time her husband Paul has been deployed abroad since Jake’s birth.
The Fareham resident said: ‘I don’t mind the short deployments - it’s the long ones I don’t like. He has been in the navy for near 13 years but it’s the first time he has gone away since the little one was born.’
Mum of one Joanna Teal waved off her fiance with their two-year-old son, Elliot.
The pair will marry on May 17, four weeks after the groom, Sean Candler, returns from the operation.
‘He has recently moved to smaller ships,’ Joanna said.
‘He was on HMS Atherstone and then HMS Brocklesby. I don’t feel that happy today but they are going out for Nato so it is important.’
David Shell, 75, had also made the journey this morning to wave off his 30-year-old son James, who is a diver.
‘He is my only son in the navy,’ he said. ‘I was in the Royal Navy myself, many years ago.’
Thirty-year-old Nicola Clark was also out with her daughter Betty-Rose to wave off her husband.
She said: ‘He does it all the time. He left Betty-Rose when she was five weeks told; she is 14 months now.
‘We try to come down here every time, but I work in computing so it’s not always possible.’