Families and friends of sailors who have been on operations in the Gulf for eight months welcomed back their loved ones as they returned to Portsmouth Naval Base.
Royal Navy minehunter HMS Chiddingfold returned to her home port on September 1st, following three years in the Gulf.
Her 47-strong ship’s company – MCM2 Crew 1 – sailed the 7000 miles back from Bahrain alongside sister ship HMS Penzance, having left the port six weeks ago.
Minehunter crews rotate to the ships – spending around eight months at a time in the Gulf where four permanent minehunters are based out of Bahrain. The ships work alongside coalition partners to provide reassurance to the region as well as route survey, sea-bed clearance, and mine clearance operations.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Chiddingfold Lieutenant Commander David Louis said: “We have been very lucky to be the crew that brings HMS Chiddingfold back to her home port. It is a beautiful south coast day and lovely to see all our friends and family who we have missed so much while we were away.
“We were in the Gulf working with our allies to reassure them of the Royal Navy’s presence in the region and complete any tasking that was required of us. We are a very specialist ship with specialist capability of hunting and destroying mines and we exercised those skills with our partner nations.
“It is wonderful to be back in Portsmouth and to see my wife and my boy and show them HMS Chiddingfold.”
While in the Gulf HMS Chiddingfold took part in an annual mine clearance exercise with her sister ships Penzance, and Bangor as well as US counterparts USS Devastator, Gladiator and Dextrous.
The exercise saw the on-board diving teams hunt out and recover dummy mines, exercising their ability to do so in a real-life situation.
HMS Chiddingfold has the latest minehunting technology at her disposal including the Seafox mine disposal system, advanced sonar, as well as a team of expert ordnance disposal divers.
She has also been protecting shipping lanes, hosted Bahrani coastguard officers and took part in several defence engagement activities including with the Royal Navy of Oman.
Portsmouth-based HMS Chiddingfold has been relieved by HMS Ledbury.