Crowds of family and friends gathered on the blustery shoreline of Old Portsmouth yesterday, to wave off loved ones on board the Type 23 Frigate HMS St Albans as she left her home port for a nine-month deployment, focussing on maritime security operations, in the Middle East.

St Albans will continue the work that her sister ship, HMS Richmond, carried out earlier this year as part of the Royal Navy’s long term presence East of Suez.

Her task is to police the seas and promote UK interests in the region by acting as a deterrent to illegal activity, safeguarding allied and merchant shipping and help ensure that global trade can proceed without a hitch.

In preparation for deployment the crew have undertaken two fast paced training periods with Flag Officer Sea Training, the Royal Navy training organisation, famed world-wide for the tough trials it puts ships and crew through.

The ship, nicknamed the Saint, is the first to deploy with the combined aviation technology of a Merlin Mk2 helicopter and ScanEagle unmanned aircraft.