A Royal Navy minehunter has set sail for a four-month Nato mission in the Mediterranean.

HMS Cattistock left Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, this morning for the international operation to protect sea routes from the threat of underwater mines as well as to take part in joint training exercises.

Lieutenant Commander Stephen Higham, HMS Cattistock's commanding officer, said: ''We are well prepared and looking forward to working alongside our Nato allies in the Mediterranean.

''This deployment is a great opportunity for the ship to learn from shared experiences, contribute to regional security and showcase the Royal Navy's skill as the world's leading experts in mine warfare.''