Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigate HMS St Albans left her homeport in Portsmouth for a nine-month deployment in the Middle East, yesterday, December 1.
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.
The ship, nicknamed the Saint, is the first to deploy with the combined aviation technology of a Merlin Mk2 helicopter and ScanEagle unmanned aircraft.
The ship has been through extensive maintenance and upgrades including the installation of ScanEagle, a pilotless aircraft, which provides the Type 23 with extra “eyes in the sky” sending back live imagery to the operations room. Launched by a catapult on a 14ft ramp, ScanEagle can remain airborne for 12 hours operating at ranges of up to 40 miles from the mother ship.
Final preparations took place last week when the ship’s Merlin Mk2 helicopter joined the ship for a series of sorties designed to refresh and sharpen the ship’s aviation skills prior to deployment.
Image: Royal Navy