THERE were shrieks, shouts, tears and lots of pride as HMS Dauntless sailed gently out of Portsmouth for the Falkland Islands.
Families and friends of sailors yesterday crammed on to the Round Tower and along the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth, as well as in Gosport, for a noisy send-off which had echoes of the events of 30 years ago today when the Falklands Task Force set sail to retake the islands.
Unlike 1982, this departure was for a pre-planned, routine patrol of the South Atlantic.
But the timing of Dauntless’s deployment, coupled with the fact that the Type 45 destroyer is one of the most powerful warships ever built, has once again stoked tensions in Argentina over the British-ruled territory 8,000 miles from home.
Families on the Round Tower were determined to push those thoughts to the back of their minds as they watched loved ones go to sea for the next six months.
‘I’m just very proud of him,’ said Carlee Russell, 27, of Gosport, who was there to wave off husband Lee, 28, an Able Seaman engineer.
She was with their young, Union Flag-waving children Eloise, two, and Connor, five, and Lee’s mum Carol.
Carlee said: ‘Lee only joined the navy last year. He’s been interested in the military since he was a kid.
‘He was self-employed and it wasn’t really going anywhere with the recession so it was now or never while the kids are little.
‘It was a big decision but I’m very happy for him.’
Also beaming with pride was former soldier Timothy Moresco, 57, who was there to cheer on his son, Able Seaman Josh Moresco, 21.
He said: ‘I feel fine about it all but my wife is a bit tearful. I couldn’t be more proud of him. I don’t think they’ll have any problems down there but his mum worries like most mothers do.’
Kai Howells, 12, and his sister Tamsyn, 14, had made signs for their dad Geoff, 41, a Warrant Officer on the ship.
Lofting a ‘We love you Mr Howells’ sign high above his head, Kai, of Gosport, said: ‘It’s the first time I’ve actually seen him go and I’m going to miss him a lot.’
Wife Rachel Howells, 45, added: ‘It’s been a long time since he’s been away for six months. It’s tough but you’ve just got to get on with it.’
Reflecting on the timing of the deployment, she added: ‘I don’t think it’s got anything to do with it (the Falklands).
‘It’s the anniversary of the Falklands War and you can’t detract from that, but it’s coincidence the ship is going now.’