Hundreds of happy families and friends welcomed home their loved ones on board HMS Bulwark on December 14th, as the ship returned home from a three-month deployment in time for Christmas.
The crew of the Royal Navy’s amphibious flagship HMS Bulwark arrived to a warm welcome fit for heroes after the successful amphibious flagship role with the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group in the Middle East and Mediterranean.
The Navy still has 3,700 personnel deployed or on duty over Christmas, and at least 18 ships and submarines away from home.
HMS Bulwark re-entered her baseport HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, with her crew lining the deck on parade as about 600 joyous banner-waving families and friends lined the jetty to cheer them home, heralded by a helicopter flypast and gunfire salute.
Captain James Parkin, the Captain of HMS Bulwark said: “It’s wonderful to see so many happy smiling faces welcoming us home. My amazing ship’s company deserve a special Christmas with their families and friends.’’
Marine Barry Cannon, of Plymouth, swept his twin sons Jack and Oliver, aged three, off their feet as they gave him a loud welcome. Barry, serves with the ship’s assault group of Royal Marines and arrived into the naval base ahead of his ship on one of his landing craft.
Remaining ready for any contingency, the task group took part in amphibious exercises off Albania and Egypt before heading through the Suez Canal and conducting further exercises in Oman. HMS Bulwark then spent a short period training the Somaliland Coastguard, before returning home via Haifa in Israel, where she hosted senior dignitaries from the Israeli government and Armed Forces.
HMS Bulwark has now steamed nearly a quarter of a million nautical miles since entering service in 2004 – 14,000 of fleet, they have run marathons, sold poppies and baked cakes to raise funds for a variety of charities, and have donated nearly £14000 to good causes over the last 12 months – including an outstanding 65 mile run in 12 hours around the upper deck by Marine Ryan Joslin.