The Royal Navy warship HMS Portland was waved off by families of the crew as they left Plymouth today (Monday) on a nine-month deployment taking them half way round the world.
The frigate will undertake maritime security operations to promote stability and deter illegitimate use of the sea in the Middle East and Atlantic Ocean. She is also due to take part in multi-national maritime operations with navies from several nations, strengthening the UK’s defence relationships, while working together to ensure freedom of navigation and trade.
The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Paul Stroude, 43, said: “I am immensely proud to be leading my ship’s company on this important deployment. We have all worked hard to get to this point and although we will miss our families hugely, we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“The UK in entirely dependent upon uninterrupted international seaborne trade, both for our prosperity and to provide the essentials of everyday life. My team and I will do our utmost to protect our nation’s interests and secure the safe passage of this trade.’’
Rear Admiral Keith Blount spoke to the ship’s company on the morning of their departure and reminded them of their important role in protecting the nation’s interests.
The ship was cheered into Plymouth Sound. Amongst them were the parents of Sub Lieutenant Jamie Brotherton (29), the Deputy Logistics Officer. His Mother, Edwina Brotherton said: “This is Jamie’s first deployment with the Royal Navy and the longest he will have been away from home. We are obviously sad to see him go but we are also immensely proud of him and the important work that he will be doing around the world.”
A week before, HMS Portland’s crew took their families to sea for a day to give them an insight into their work onboard, and to say thank you for their continued support at home. The day included demonstrations of the small-calibre weapons and water-jet propelled rigid inflatable boats.
Amongst the family members present was Lesley White, Wife of Chief Petty Officer Tony White (45) she said: “It is really exciting to enjoy a day at sea and to understand a little bit of what our families’ experience. We are going to miss them terribly over the next nine months, but it helps knowing that what they are doing is really important. I am really proud of Tony and the entire ship’s company.”
The crew has been preparing for this deployment for the last six months and has completed an extensive training programme delivered by the world-renowned staff of Flag Officer Sea Training. This honed their skills as war-fighters with a series of increasingly complex scenarios and included training in the varied non-combat tasks that Portland may be expected to face, ranging from searching suspect vessels, to providing humanitarian aid in the wake of a disaster, or conducting an evacuation of British citizens from a global trouble spot.
The ship has also completed major engineering work to upgrade various systems and prepare her for the busy forthcoming programme. This was followed by firings of the primary missile system, Sea Wolf.