TEARS were shed and banners were waved as families bid goodbye to the crew of HMS Daring as it left Portsmouth.
Hundreds flocked to the Hot Walls and Round Tower in Old Portsmouth to see off their loved ones aboard the destroyer as she sailed out of Portsmouth for a nine-month deployment in the Gulf.
There was a mix of emotions for families as they declared their pride for partners, children and siblings while fighting back the tears as Daring faded into the distance.
[On her daughter Ella] The crew will be safe in her handsHelen Rollins, from Harwich, Essex
Sally Hughes, 26, who had previously served on Daring, was waving goodbye to her girlfriend, Gemma Price, 25, who was called up as able seaman specialist for the deployment.
Sally, from Gosport, said: ‘It’s really hard as of course she’s waved me off before but now I know what she went through, I’m finding it quite tough.
‘It was a bit surreal dropping her off at the base this morning as I’m usually the one sailing away.’
Sally previously served on Daring’s eight-month tour of the Gulf in 2012.
She added: ‘I was trying to reassure her this morning that we will still be able to talk and not to see it as one nine-month block.
‘When it gets tough, looking forward to the next time you talk to your partner really keeps you going.’
Jake Hobday, from Broadstairs, Kent, was the youngest sailor on board Daring.
The 18-year-old was selected as aviation boatswain’s mate second class, only a year after joining the navy.
His mum Rachel Cox, 41, said: ‘I’m ever so proud of him.
‘He has been waiting for this moment where he sails off for a very long time so we are all over the moon for him.’
Rachel said that her son was in tears at their last meeting but she’s confident he will be ‘a safe pair of hands’ aboard the destroyer.
She added: ‘I’m hoping the nine months will go quite quickly and I can’t wait to hear all about it.’
Paul and Helen Rollins, from Harwich, Essex were waving goodbye to their daughter Ella Knight, 21.
Ella was also aboard Daring for her first deployment as a warfare specialist.
Helen said: ‘She really could not wait to go.
‘She’s a very determined girl and was so keen to get going and do her duty.’
Ella previously looked at joining the police and the army before choosing the navy in November 2014.
Helen added: ‘Ella is a very focused woman and she will take her job very seriously.
‘However, she’s also a good laugh and will have a load of fun out there I can imagine.
‘The crew will be safe in her hands.’
Also aboard was Michael Davies, 25, as a engineer from South Wales.
His brother Anthony got ‘a bit choked up’ as he waved the destroyer past.
He said: ‘As brothers, we tended to do everything together so I did get a little bit choked up as he went away.
‘Michael’s got a real love of the armed forces and I’m sure he will be very eager to do his job as well as he can.’
Daring’s Commanding Officer Philip Dennis declared his pride that the destroyer had been chosen for the mission.
He told The News: ‘It is an absolute privilege for HMS Daring to have been chosen to carry out this very important job.
‘We are very looking forward to getting away from the UK and doing our job that we have spent six months training to do.
The commander said that they have a ‘strong mix’ of experienced sailors aboard Daring, with their experienced hands set to help out the first-timers.
Daring and her 190-strong ship’s company will provide vital air defence for American aircraft carriers as they launch bombing runs on high-value terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria.
It is the third deployment of the 8,000-tonne vessel in her 10 years with Daring taking over the role of sister ship, HMS Defender which returned from the gulf earlier this year.