HMS Iron Duke heading off to patrol Gulf

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CROWDS of families and friends will wave off Portsmouth-based warship HMS Iron Duke on Monday as she sails to the Arabian Gulf for the next six months.

It will be the first time the 4,900 tonne Type 23 frigate has been deployed to the region where she will be patrolling busy shipping lanes and providing security for the region alongside other coalition navies.

Iron Duke's recent deployments have been to the Atlantic and Caribbean, where she enjoyed significant success in counter-narcotics operations, most notably in 2009 by making the largest cocaine seizure in Royal Navy History - five and a half tonnes of cocaine with a street value of 240m.

Since that operation, the ship has spent a year in UK waters, conducting maintenance and training the ship's company in preparation for the Gulf deployment where her work will include counter-terrorism and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, the protection of Iraq's oil platforms, exercises and operations with regional naval forces, and wider regional engagement to promote and support the UK's interests in the area.

The ship's commanding officer, Commander Nick Cooke-Priest, said: 'My ship's company is prepared and looking forward to this challenging and diverse deployment to the Middle East.'