Navy ship sets off on three-year operation

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ROYAL Navy warship HMS Atherstone is set leave Portsmouth today for a three-year deployment to the Gulf.

The minehunter ship was scheduled to pass the Round Tower, Old Portsmouth, at around 10.30am.

She is sailing to hand over from another ship which is coming to the end of a three-year stint in the Middle East.

The navy’s small minehunting ships, which are based out of Bahrain, spend years at a time in the Gulf.

The 45-man crews rotate every six months, saving time and money on sailing the 685-tonne ships back and forth.

The ships support wider British efforts in the Gulf, providing route survey, sea-bed clearance, and mine clearance operations in the region.

A navy spokesman said: ‘The operation also aims to provide a visible naval presence in a region where stability and good relations with local nations is vital.

‘Much of the UK’s oil and gas, as well as other products, come from the Gulf region.’