The UK Royal Navy has deployed its Type 22 frigate HMS Chatham to fight piracy off the Somalian coast.

During its seven-month deployment codenamed Operation Ocean Shield, the navy vessel will lead Nato operations in the pirate-affected regions, which include Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Somali Basin.

HMS Chatham commanding officer Commander Simon Huntington said the vessel was deploying to the Middle East to join Nato forces in the fight against piracy as part of the international effort to improve maritime security in the region.

HMS Chatham and her 250-strong crew sailed from Devonport, Plymouth, southern England, for a seven-month deployment and will be the UK flagship to the Standing Nato Maritime Group 2.

The 492ft-long ship has a displacement of 5,300t and is equipped with anti-air and anti-missile Sea Wolf missiles, anti-ship Harpoon missiles and anti-submarine Stingray torpedoes.