The Royal Navy warship HMS Northumberland today (Monday 19th May) sailed on a seven-month deployment policing crucial international maritime trade routes.
The Type 23 frigate left Plymouth and was waved off by about 100 well-wishers to relieve her sister ship HMS Somerset on a six -months patrol helping to keep the sea lanes open and clamping down on illegal activity in the region.
Among the banner-waving crowd at Devil’s Point to watch the ship transit Plymouth Sound to the Channel was Plymouth’s Lord Mayor Vivien Pengelly in her mayoral ceremonial regalia of chain, hat and red gown. She said: “It was a bit emotional even for me to wave off the ship. I like to do this because it is always a big event for Plymouth to wave off their sons and daughters, husbands and wives to the other side of the world. I like to support the families in wishing them well in their important job and I hope to be here when they come back safely. It’s an important part of my work at Lord Mayor.’’
Seeing off Leading Chef Paul Gough were his fiancee Amy, from Tavistock with children Roxy, aged six, and James, aged one. Amy said: “I cried a little. It’s only his second time away on a ship. I’ll be OK, but I do have a handful with these two little children.’’
Roxy shouted loudly and waved as Paul stood to attention in ceremonial formation on the ship’s decks with his shipmates. She said: “me and mummy cried, but we’ll be alright. I can’t wait til he comes back.’’
Paul’s parents Pauline and David Gough, from Swanage, Dorset, joined the family farewell along with Amy’s brother Ash. David said: “It’s a long trip from Swanage. But we wouldn’t have missed seeing Paul deploy for the world and we’re here to support Amy and the grandchildren. There’s a lot of people here. It just shows how people still value the Navy.’’
HMS Northumberland’s commanding officer, Commander Tristram Kirkwood, said: “My ship’s company is keen to get going on this demanding mission. It takes a tremendous amount of personal and professional commitment to regenerate a warship ready for operations and I am extremely proud of my ship’s company for the work they have done in getting us to this point. The ship’s company is rightly excited about the deployment and we are all committed to it being a success.”
HMS Northumberland has undergone an extensive period of regeneration to get her and her crew ready as a front-line fighting ship. The ship conducted visits round the UK, including to her affiliated county of Northumberland and carried out trials and an intensive and challenging operational sea training programme under Flag Officer Sea Training staff to prepare for any event the patrol might throw at them.
HMS Northumberland is now poised for a deployment as part of the Royal Navy’s standing commitment in the Middle East, providing reassurance to the UK’s allies in the region, policing busy shipping lanes and carrying out maritime security and counter-piracy patrols.