Royal Navy heads for the Med

Royal Navy warships will set sail for the Mediterranean today amid continued diplomatic tensions with the Spanish over Gibraltar.

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HMS Illustrious sails from Portsmouth today

HMS Illustrious passes the Round Tower in Portsmouth as it leaves the country Credit: Royal Navy

A Royal Navy ship has sailed from Portsmouth today as part of an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf region.

The long-planned Cougar '13 deployment will see the naval force hone its world-class maritime skills through exercises with key allies.

The ship has left Portsmouth as she heads for the Mediterranean Credit: Royal Navy

This is the first time the deployment has taken place with its aim to demonstrate the ability to operate a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world to protect UK interests.

HMS Illustrious sets sail from Portsmouth today Credit: Royal Navy

Captain Mike Utley, Commanding Officer HMS Illustrious, said: "I am immensely proud of my ship and what has been achieved by everyone on board, in Portsmouth Naval Base and further afield, to get HMS Illustrious and all our embedded capabilities ready to employ today."

People at Portsmouth seafront wave off the naval ship Credit: Royal Navy


HMS Illustrious set for Gibraltar

HMS Illustrious has left Portsmouth as she heads to Gibraltar for a routine visit after increased tensions with Spain over border checks.

The ships will be taking part in what defence officials have said is a long-scheduled deployment codenamed Cougar '13 in the Mediterranean and the Gulf.

The vessels set sail from Portsmouth as a diplomatic spat continued between the UK and Spain, triggered by the creation of an artificial reef by the Gibraltarian authorities which the Spanish claim will destroy fishing in the area.

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