HMS Lancaster sails from Portsmouth

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DOZENS of families have braved the rain this morning to wave goodbye to their loved ones on HMS Lancaster.

The Type 23 frigate has sailed today for six months in the Caribbean and North Atlantic.

HMS Lancaster leaves Portsmouth

HMS Lancaster leaves Portsmouth

She will be on standby during hurricane season to provide humanitarian aid.

Sharon Headley, 31, of Highwood Road in Gosport, was stood on the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth this morning to wave off husband Chris, 33.

She said: ‘It’s never nice to have to wave him goodbye and I will miss him but hopefully the time will fly past.’

It will be a busy deployment for the ship, as she will have a number of roles including helping British Overseas Territories with humanitarian aid and disaster relief during the hurricane season.

The ship’s company will take part in counter-narcotic operations with foreign navies.

Commander Steve Moorhouse is HMS Lancaster’s commanding officer.

He said: ‘I’m extremely proud of my ship’s company who have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months regenerating Lancaster from refit and preparing her for this demanding deployment.

‘After months of rigorous training, Lancaster is ready to take her place on the front line of naval operations.

‘Although working primarily in the Caribbean with a wide range of island partners and South and Central American nations, we will, in the best traditions of the Royal Navy, be ready to respond to whatever challenges may arise over the next six months.’

During her six months at sea, HMS Lancaster will visit all six of the British Overseas Territories in the region as well as several Commonwealth and Caribbean countries.

She is affectionately known as the Queen’s Frigate, after her sponsor, the Queen.

The frigate will also conduct counter-drugs operations with the US Coastguard, while being on standby to provide humanitarian aid.

Able Seaman Henry Bowyer said: ‘I’m looking forward to deployment, particularly because this is my first taste of overseas operations and a chance to do my job to its full potential.

‘I’m looking forward to exploring new places and experiencing new cultures, especially the ones in the sunshine.’

The deployment is the first for the frigate since she underwent an extensive refit in 2011 and 2012.

Upgrades included the latest version of the Seawolf missile defence system as well as a new flight deck.