HMS Sutherland leaves Devonport for six-month tour

Thu, 05 July 2012

HMS Sutherland will be carrying out maritime security and counter-piracy patrols in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf.

The Type 23 frigate has recently been fitted with the updated air defence Seawolf missile system.

A families day was held at Devonport on Wednesday ahead of the crew's departure.

Kersty Norris, whose husband Mike is a warrant officer on the ship, said the family day helped both her and her two children to see where his new "home" would be.

Supersonic guided missiles
"It makes a sad day a little bit easier to bear," she said.

"It's a special day for Alfie and Rose too as they don't want their daddy to go away - it's nice for them to meet other children who are going to be in the same situation as them."

HMS Sutherland's commanding officer, Cdr Al Wilson, said the ship's company was looking forward to the deployment.

"Sutherland is one of the most advanced and capable warships in the Royal Navy and I am privileged to lead the ship on counter-piracy and maritime security operations," he said.

"The Seawolf upgrade is just one of many improvements that the ship has received recently and in conjunction with our recently operational sea training, makes the ship highly capable to deal with all operations and contingencies.''

HMS Sutherland is the first ship to deploy on operations with the updated supersonic guided missile system, which allows the ship to detect and neutralise targets using radar and heat and infra-red cameras.

The warship, which was launched in 1996, was sent to Libya in July last year as part of the Nato mission to protect civilians during an uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi. He was later shot dead after being captured in his home town Sirte in October.

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