Monday, February 1, 2010

Fond Farewell for Portsmouth Frigate

Crowds of families and friends waved off the crew of Portsmouth-based warship HMS St Albans as she sailed towards the Arabian Gulf for the next six months.

The 4,900 tonne Type 23 frigate has been deployed to support international efforts in tackling piracy, illegal trafficking and smuggling along busy shipping lanes.

The crew has been put through a demanding sea training package of counter-piracy, counter-terrorism and boarding operations exercises to make sure they are prepared for the deployment.

HMS St Albans, known as The Saint, is also due to sail to the Middle East and into Iraqi waters to help the government protect their oil platforms and provide security to ensure regional stability.

HMS St Albans, which left at 10am on Monday February 1, has a mix of old hands who have been deployed to Iraq on several occasions and also young sailors and Royal Marines who will be facing these challenges for the first time.

The Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, Commander Adrian Pierce, said:

"The seas east of the Suez Canal are being increasingly used for unlawful purposes, including piracy, illegal trafficking and smuggling in support of terrorist organisations. HMS St Albans will be deployed to these areas to support the wider international community intent on defeating these international threats.

“Later in the deployment, and at the invitation of the Iraqi Government, HMS St Albans will continue to support Iraqi national interests, therefore ensuring Iraq’s continued economic growth. Royal Naval operations in the Middle East are focused on reassuring regional partners of the Coalitions commitment to assist in building security and stability.”

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