On a matchless day on the Clyde, minehunter HMS Bangor slipped away from the jetty to begin a lengthy mission to the Gulf.
It will be at least two more years before she sees Gareloch again as she replaces her sister Shoreham in Bahrain.
The Sandown-class ship faces a journey of more than 6,000 miles to reach her future patrol ground.
She’ll spend it in company with HMS Middleton, which is also Gulf-bound, having departed Portsmouth on Monday; she’ll do a like-for-like swap with HMS Brocklesby, which will sail back to the UK with Shoreham.
This is the 15th year that the Royal Navy has maintained a continuous minehunting presence in the kingdom, working with allies and partners in the region to keep sea lanes open, hone mine warfare skills and generally promote peace and stability.
HMS Bangor is home to Crew 8 from the 1st Mine Countermeasures Squadron. They been on board for a year in preparation both for the journey and the mission once they get to Bahrain.
The 45 men and women aboard have taken the 600-tonne vessel from the depths of maintenance through to a fully-operational warship after completing training.
She’s got all her hi-tech sensors and equipment finely tuned on the NATO ranges in Stavanger, Norway.
And she’s paid a visit to her namesake port – the one in Northern Ireland, not Wales – to catch up with friends and affiliates before heading off to the Middle East.
“It’s been a very busy year for Crew 8 and HMS Bangor,” said Lieutenant Commander Rob Couzens, the ship’s Commanding Officer.
“We started with getting the ship ready to proceed to sea after a very in-depth maintenance period, conducted operational sea training which tested the ship and crew to extremes – all while dealing with the effects of Covid and the difficulties that created including separation from loved ones.
“Crew 8 has fought hard and got HMS Bangor ready to deploy on operations and we are all very much looking forward to our transit out to the Gulf and what the rest of the year has in store for us.”
Meanwhile command of Bangor’s parent squadron has passed to Commander Jim Lovell, while his predecessor Cdr Neil Griffiths moves on to continue to develop the RN’s minehunting forces of tomorrow.
Crews of Sandown-class vessels are gradually transitioning from the existing ships to the new autonomous force, spearheaded by the three new craft Hebe, Harrier and Hazard, led by the squadron’s Crew 7 who came home from the Gulf earlier this summer ready to grasp the future.
Cdr Lovell takes charge of five ships and their crews training for/contributing to operations in the Gulf, NATO task groups (typically Mine Countermeasures Group 1 in the cool waters of northern Europe) and ensuring UK waters are safe and mine/explosive free.