And both the family and girlfriend of the naval airman are waiting anxiously for news as the Royal Navy flagship works in the war zone.
HMS Illustrious is heading a fleet of six ships that will evacuate thousands of Britons over the coming days.
The news that Mr Long, whose job is to look after aircraft, was heading for Lebanon came as a shock to his mother, Dawn Long, and girlfriend, Laura Osmand, because HMS Illustrious was due to be heading home this week from Gibraltar after months at sea.
Miss Osmand (19), who has been seeing Mr Long for over two years, was due to travel to Portsmouth to meet the aircraft carrier but those plans were shelved on Saturday night when Mr Long (21) called to inform them of the vessel’s new orders.
UK defence secretary Des Browne gave orders for HMS Illustrious and HMS Bulwark to make ready for operations following the Israeli air strikes.
The evacuation of Britons started in a low-key manner on Monday when helicopters carried mainly children and women to safety in Cyprus.
However, the major evacuation will probably need the co-operation of both Lebanese and Israeli forces to allow British ships to enter the currently blockaded port of Beirut.
Mrs Long, who runs the Franklyn Guest House in St Saviour’s Road, said she was shocked when she was told.
‘I am a mother and I am bound to worry, but I am trying not to think about it too much,’ she said.
‘Richard just said it was his job.’