HMS Northumberland departed UK waters in October 2012. Since then the ship has steamed over 45,000 miles, crossed five time zones and visited 11 countries.
With the Merlin helicopter from 829 Squadron and embarked detachment of Royal Marines, the Boarding Teams from HMS Northumberland conducted 71 boarding operations, one of which resulted in the capture of bales of cannabis resin which had an estimated street value of £5.5 million.
Patiently waiting for her arrival were hundreds of families and friends of the crew. While they waited in the bitter cold they were entertained by the HMS Drake Volunteer Band and a big cheer went up as the ship was spotted coming up the River Hamaoze and heading towards her berth.
Excitedly waiting on the jetty was Vicky Saunders, the partner of Chief Petty Officer Paul Baker, with their seven month old son Thomas.
Vicky said: “Paul hasn’t seen Thomas since he left Plymouth last September when Thomas was just three weeks old. We managed to make a few Skype calls during the deployment but it’s not the same as seeing him in the flesh and Thomas has grown so much since he last saw him.”
Also waiting on the jetty were the family of Chief Petty Officer Gary Crabtree. It is his last deployment before he leaves the Navy in July 2014 and to mark the occasion they dressed up in naval uniforms and had made masks of his face to wear to greet him.
HMS Northumberland’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tristram Kirkwood, said: ”It’s great for the crew to be home. HMS Northumberland has spent the last seven months providing both assurance to our regional partners and legitimate maritime traffic, and deterrence to those who would commit illegal acts in international waters.
“I am extremely proud of my team who have done a tremendous job. They are now looking forward to some well deserved leave with their families and friends.”
HMS Northumberland handed over in the Red Sea to sister ship HMS Kent to maintain the UK’s long-standing commitment to Maritime security in the region. HMS Northumberland is expected to return to operations in the region in summer 2014.
Press Release, May 13, 2013