Royal Navy frigate HMS Portland returned home to Plymouth on Friday concluding her nine-month deployment.
HMS Portland was welcomed to HM Naval Base Devonport by a crowd of family and friends while 42 lucky family members got an insight into life at sea by sailing as special guests on board from Portugal.
Since leaving Devonport last June the ship has travelled over 40,000 miles through the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian, Pacific and South Atlantic oceans.
HMS Portland’s deployment included three strategic chokepoints in the Middle East; the Suez Canal, the Bab El-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz, through which over 40 percent of the world’s merchant traffic passes, and where the frigate helped to ensure the uninterrupted flow of global trade.
The ship has also taken part in counter-narcotics patrols in the Indian Ocean and North Atlantic, and afforded reassurance to the UK’s overseas territories. Interacting with the governments, armed forces or law-enforcement agencies of 26 other nations, the Type 23 frigate has been tasked with a wide range of defence engagement activity, including a range of operations or exercises at sea and diplomatic or training events alongside.
HMS Portland assisted in the rescue of 15 sailors from a sinking fishing dhow in the Indian Ocean, and evacuated a critically ill person from remote Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic.
The crew has also raised over £5,000 for charity and will now enjoy extended leave while HMS Portland enters an extensive upgrade period to receive new radars, engines and even the new Sea Ceptor missile system.
HMS Portland’s captain, Captain Paul Stroude, 43, said, “We return with a mixture of feelings, firstly with huge pride in our achievements and joy at seeing our families again after months away. Also, the ship’s company will now disperse to new jobs and others postings in the Navy as the ship enters a period in upkeep to renew her for her next phase of her service. We have formed long-lasting close bonds, so it is a bit sad to leave our shipmates after an intense hardworking time.’’
Captain Stroude, who now goes onto another posting, added, “This has been a challenging and hugely varied deployment that has tested my ship and her company. Despite encountering temperatures ranging from sub-zero near the Antarctic to over 50 degrees in the Gulf, we have continued to deliver all that was asked of us.’’