Grafton en route to Middle East

IPSWICH'S adopted warship is today en-route to the Middle East – the first deployment since Suffolk seaman Robert Bellfield was appointed as commanding officer.

IPSWICH'S adopted warship is today en-route to the Middle East - the first deployment since Suffolk seaman Robert Bellfield was appointed as commanding officer.

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate is taking part in a three-month trip with HMS Nottingham, as part of a task group led by HMS Invincible.

It is the ship's first deployment since commander Bellfield took over at the helm and comes shortly under a year before she is being scrapped.

Commander Bellfield, a former Farlingaye High School and Framlingham College pupil, said: "This short deployment promises to be operationally challenging - very busy, but very rewarding.

"We are looking forward to working as part of the task group, something that many of my ship's company have little experience of.

"We will be returning to a region where Grafton's name is already well-known and admired and I am sure we will be able to reinforce this before we return to Portsmouth in April."

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The vessel left the United Kingdom on Monday after a ceremony at the Portsmouth Dockyard.

It is being decommissioned in March 2006 and will pay a final visit to Ipswich in July.

Commander Bellfield, 39, said: "Grafton is long overdue for a visit to Ipswich and I am determined to bring the ship to Suffolk at the earliest possible opportunity."

WEBLINK:

www.royalnavy.mod.uk

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