One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Maiden Deployment For HMS Diamond
Well-wishers have waved off one of the Royal Navy's newest and most powerful warships as she set sail on her maiden deployment just days after taking a starring role in the nation's diamond jubilee celebrations.
HMS Diamond, the third of six new Type 45 destroyers being built at a cost of £1 billion each, sailed out of Portsmouth Naval Base on Wednesday 13th June, for a six-month deployment to the Middle East.
Members of the public lined the harbour walls waving flags as the ship passed by.
The ship's mission is to carry out maritime security patrols in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the Gulf, replacing its sister ship HMS Daring.
The ship will be part of the navy's role in providing counter piracy patrols and providing reassurance to the UK's allies in the region.
Earlier this month, Diamond entered Portsmouth Naval Base with a 21-gun salute and a diamond-shaped flypast followed by a street party on board the flight deck to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: ''The deployment of HMS Diamond this week marks another watershed for the Type 45 programme, with three of these highly capable destroyers now on operations worldwide.
''I wish her success in her Middle East deployment where the security of the international shipping lanes continues to be of the utmost importance.
''The Royal Navy continues to make a significant contribution to protecting the freedom of the seas and Britain's interests across the globe.''
Diamond's commanding officer, Commander Ian Clarke, said: ''After completing months of rigorous training and intensive engineering trials, as well as the obvious pride in our participation in the national jubilee celebrations earlier this month, Diamond is now ready in all respects to undertake her role in her first operational deployment.
''The ship's company has shown that this ship has the potential and capability to undertake the variety of likely scenarios we may encounter.
''Although this will be important for the ship and my people, this is not new business for the Royal Navy, which has had a continuous presence in the Gulf for many years.
''The deployment of Diamond to the region is entirely routine and replaces another ship already on patrol.''
HMS Diamond was launched in 2007 and commissioned into the fleet in 2011.
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