Families of crew members waved from the old sea walls at Portsmouth when HMS Richmond sailed on a seven-month deployment. But for one member of the ship’s company, the voyage will bring about a family reunion.
Leading Seaman Jamie Fowler will return to his home island for the first time in 12 years when the ship visits St Helena on 29 and 30 August.
Family members who have not seen him in that time will be invited aboard to meet him.
The visit is part of the routine South Atlantic deployment undertaken by the Royal Navy, aimed at promoting British interests and providing a continuous security presence.
The Atlantic Patrol Task will see HMS Richmond undertake operations including counter-narcotics and anti-piracy patrols.
HMS Richmond is described as “among the most tried and tested” Type 23 Frigate in the fleet, which may be a polite way of saying the ship is getting a bit old.
It was commissioned 20 years ago and saw service in the opening hours of the 2003 Iraq Campaign, pounding Saddam Hussein’s defences on the Al Far peninsula.
The vessel underwent a major upgrade at Devonport Dockyard early in 2013, and has since been involved in a number of training exercises around Europe.
Preparations for the South Atlantic deployment included successful firings of the ship’s Sea Wolf surface-to-air missiles off the south coast of England.
A programme of activities was being planned on St Helena for the ship’s two-day visit.