Flags hung from every building along a two-mile stretch of the seafront as flares filled the sky.
Traffic chaos paralysed the city centre.
About 5,000 people filled Gosport’s Ferry Gardens for the farewell.
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Sorrell, the commander-in-chief naval home command admiral Sir James Eberle and the flag officer of Portsmouth rear-admiral Anthony Tippet watched the departure from an admiralty barge.
But it was the wives, families and sweethearts who felt full of emotion at the dramatic scene as they watched their loved ones sail towards the Falkland Islands.