WHEN Sian Bailey joined the Royal Navy, little did she know she would end up on Britain's premier warship which is poised to take part in a mass military attack on Afghanistan.
The 28-year-old lieutenant is waiting on orders from Downing Street before HMS Illustrious attacks Osama bin Laden and his terrorist training camps.
The aircraft carrier, the command centre for any British military strike, moved into position in the Gulf this week with elements of Britain's biggest naval deployment since the Falklands war.
Parts of this task force would form the British contribution to any United States offensive.
In the meantime, it is playing a leading role in the Saif Sareea (Swift Sword 2) military exercise in Oman.
And like the rest of the world, Sian's parents Jean and Ken have been forced to endure a waiting game.
Sian, who lives with her parents in Green Lane, Vicars Cross, Chester, is a former pupil of Christleton High School and a graduate of Leeds University.
Although her mum and dad are proud of their daughter's role as the ship's public relations officer, they are a little worried about what may happen if a heavy allied attack begins.
This week Sian sent an emotional message to her parents in The Sun saying she would see them at Christmas.
Her dad Ken said: 'She will be safer on the Illustrious than anywhere else.
We are keeping a close eye on the news. My wife is a bit wobbly but Sian will be OK.'
Sian's naval career has got off to a colourful start. Last week she had to counsel 17-year-old crew member Jodie Jones who hit the headlines after sending a postcard to her gran saying she was afraid of going into battle.
In a moving message home, the youngest sailor on the fleet admitted to being 'very scared' at the thought of going to war.
The teenager thought she was embarking on a routine naval exercise when she waved to her parents as she set sail from Portsmouth, but she has now vowed to remain on the warship and see out any possible conflict.
Sian has also had to deal with intense interest from the media and welcomed the BBC's veteran war reporter Kate Adie on board at the weekend.
Ken said: 'She looked after this girl for a day after the news broke in the papers.
'We met up with Sian three weeks ago in Malta but her ship had to leave straight away after the terrorist attacks. Some crew were left behind.'