A Royal Navy warship known as the ‘Queen’s Frigate’ has left base for a three-year deployment to the Middle East.
HMS Lancaster, which was launched by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 and named after her — the Duke of Lancaster being a subsidiary title of the sovereign — left Portsmouth Naval Base for the long-term deployment.
The Type 23 frigate is the second ship from the fleet to be based out of Bahrain. Its 200-strong crew will rotate every four months.
The ship has previously been on patrol in the Gulf protecting Iraq's oil platforms in the aftermath of the Iraq War.
On its way to the Middle East, HMS Lancaster will conduct patrols with two Nato task forces, firstly in northern Europe and later in the eastern Mediterranean.
A Navy spokesman said: “Once in Bahrain, the 200-strong crew — including a Royal Marines boarding team and Wildcat helicopter flight — will trade places like-for-like with a second crew in the UK every four months.
“Known as ‘forward deploying’, it spares ships the month-long voyage to and from the Middle East, allowing more time to be spent on patrol, with maintenance carried out in the Gulf rather than back in the UK.”
Commander Tom Johnson, Lancaster’s commanding officer said he was “immensely proud” of the deployment.
“Although our thoughts always turn to our loved ones at home when we depart the UK, we are very much looking forward to working alongside our international partners as part of a Nato task group over the coming months.”
Engineering technician Ciaran Doherty, responsible for maintaining Lancaster’s communications and computer systems, said: “I am really looking forward to my first deployment and seeing the world.”