EMOTIONAL families poured out their support to loved ones who have set sail in HMS Iron Duke for a Nato mission.
Crowds gathered in Old Portsmouth yesterday to watch the Type 23 frigate leave the harbour.
There were tears, waves and cheers as crew members saluted families who took to the Round Tower to say goodbye and give them a good send-off.
The six-month deployment will see the vessel work with a multi-national Nato task group, taking part in exercises and operations in northern Europe.
Couple Christopher and Tracey Scragg travelled down from Manchester to wave off their son Tom, 22, an engineering technician.
They were joined by Tom’s fiancée Nancy McGowan, 21, and Ben Caldwell, 22, who will be Tom’s best man. The three met each other during navy training.
Dad Christopher said: ‘We are very, very proud. It’s his first deployment.
‘He loves it.
‘But he can’t wait to come back because he’s getting married. And his best man is here too.’
Tracey said: ‘It’s sad to see him go, but what he’s doing is for a great cause.’
Kate Russell, 41, of Southsea, was there to see her partner Ben Aldous, the ship’s commander.
Kate, joined by their daughter Mia, three, said: ‘We are all apprehensive.
‘But it’s just lovely to see him off.
‘It’s been a long year since their last deployment and they are all raring to go and prepared for what they need to do.’
Rosemary Walters and her husband David Walters, of East Sussex, came to support their daughter, who is a ship surgeon.
Rosemary said: ‘She has been looking forward to it; this is her first deployment in a Portsmouth ship.
‘It’s fantastic to see a lot of people here. It’s important to be here to wave them off and give them a lot of support.’