FAMILIES gathered in the windy conditions to wave goodbye to their loved ones on board HMS Middleton.
The Royal Navy minehunter sailed from her home in Portsmouth today for a three-year deployment to the Gulf where she will protect vital sea lanes and provide wider maritime security to the region.
Although it is sad to be leaving friends and family for deployment, having completed a substantial work up and training period, we are looking forward to getting out and doing the job we are ready forCommanding Officer Maryla Ingham
Earlier in the day the 45 crew were joined by family and friends onboard to see for themselves what it’s like to live and work on the minehunter.
Among those standing at the Round Tower to wave them off was Janice O’Sullivan, 39, from Fareham. She was saying goodbye to her husband Petty Officer Lee O’Sullivan, along with their three children James, six, Spencer, four, and Georgia, two.
Janice said: ‘It’s the first deployment since we had our children so we thought it was important for them to see daddy go.
‘I think they are a bit too young to understand, it’s a bit difficult for them.
‘We’ve just got to continue and be happy and have lots of contact with him.’
Also at the Round Tower was senior AB diver Bradley Chapman’s family.
Mum Pauline Woods, 54, said: ‘We all love him and we are all very proud of him.
‘It’s mixed emotions because we are very proud but very sad.’
Although Middleton will be based in Bahrain for three years, the 45 ships company will rotate every six months.
Middleton’s crew will work alongside the UK and international navies conducting maritime security patrols and exercises to ensure the safe flow of trade and oil in the area.
Her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Maryla Ingham, said: ‘Although it is sad to be leaving friends and family for deployment, having completed a substantial work up and training period, we are looking forward to getting out and doing the job we are ready for.’
HMS Middleton is one of the Navy’s fifteen mine countermeasures vessels.