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‘Queen’s Frigate’ leaves base for three-year mission to the Gulf

HMS Lancaster sailing back to Portsmouth Naval Base after shadowing and gathering intelligence on Russian warships travelling around the UK in December 2020 (Ben Mitchell/PA Wire)
HMS Lancaster sailing back to Portsmouth Naval Base after shadowing and gathering intelligence on Russian warships travelling around the UK in December 2020 (Ben Mitchell/PA Wire)

A Royal Navy warship known as the ‘Queen’s Frigate’ has sailed for the start of a three-year deployment to the Middle East.

HMS Lancaster, which was launched by the Queen in 1990 and named after her as the Duke of Lancaster, 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. It will see its 200-strong crew rotate every four months.

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.

“Lancaster’s sailors have trained extensively for their new mission, not least a six-week assessment package in March and April off Plymouth.”

Commander Tom Johnson, Lancaster’s commanding officer, said: “I am immensely proud of everything my ship’s company have achieved to prepare for this 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.”