PORTLAND’S namesake warship is off to do battle with pirates and drug traffickers in an operation on the high seas.

The Type 23 Frigate, which is closely linked with Weymouth and Portland, will set sail next week for a seven-month patrol tasking in the waters of the South Atlantic.

It will be supporting the Royal Navy’s presence in the region to protect British interests.

A Royal Navy spokesman said the ship will undertake maritime security operations, including counter-narcotics and anti-piracy patrols, providing opportunities to work with other navies to strengthen ties and demonstrate the Royal Navy’s commitment to the region.

HMS Portland is a regular visitor to Weymouth and Portland and last year sailors from the ship proudly marched along the seafront to exercise the Freedom of the Borough.

It came shortly after the ship underwent a multi-million pound upgrade in Rosyth, Scotland.

The ship will depart its home port of Plymouth on Monday.

Commanding Officer of HMS Portland, Commander Sarah West, said: “This deployment marks the culmination of a busy period regenerating HMS Portland from upkeep to operational status.

“My ship’s company is looking forward to the challenges offered by the deployment and the opportunity to work alongside other navies.”

After a refit last year, the ship underwent sea trials demonstrating the capability of its advanced weapon and sensor systems. It was also used for Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) at Plymouth.

HMS Portland then temporarily assumed the role of the high readiness fleet escort and escorted the Russian Udaloy class destroyer, Vice-Admiral Kulakov around UK waters.

Following a visit to Belfast, it took part in a multi-national maritime exercise late last year and completed a further period of sea training at FOST.

The ship has now undergone maintenance to ensure it is ready for deployment.

HMS Portland, commissioned in 2001, is one of 13 Type 23, Duke Class frigates serving in the Royal Navy.