THEY’VE circumnavigated the world, visiting some of the world’s most exotic locations.
But for the crew of HMS Dauntless, today’s homecoming at Portsmouth Naval Base was the moment to savour as they were reunited with loved ones after seven months at sea.
There was emotional scenes as an estimated 1,000 people lined the quayside to watch the Type 45 destroyer dock on UK shore.
Some of the crew made their exit from the ship bearing bouquets of flowers for their wives and girlfriends. They were sent to the ship by Horndean firm Nursery Fresh to surprise their loved ones upon returning to shore.
Engineering technical mechanic Stuart Vickerton, who lives in Fareham, was reunited with wife Sara, and children Ruby, four, Lola, six, and James, two. He said: ‘It’s fantastic, absolutely wonderful. I was shocked to see my family, very rewarding as well.
‘Coming home was the stand out moment. I will relax and spend time with the kids, and be a father which I haven’t been able to do for seven months.’
Leading aircraft controller Edwin Elliott was overjoyed to see wife Lisa and daughter Chloe, five.
He said: ‘It feels great to be home and back with our families.
‘It was made quite easy by the ship.
‘Some of the stops were absolutely amazing with beautiful scenery and a chance to do some different things which you would never do back in the UK.
‘I will have as much time at home with the family before Christmas. It is hard when you’ve got little ones, you make the best of what you do.’
Able seaman Nick Runcorn was back in Portsmouth after his first deployment away.
He said: ‘It was different to home life and back home with friends. It was very hard to adapt but I quickly adapted, made friends and got on really well with the rest of my department.
‘Stand out moments were when we were in Cape Town on an operational stand down and I got to do a lot of recreational diving with great white sharks, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
‘It was a lot better than I expected. To go on and be able to do your job within a couple of years.
‘It’s great to be home with my family.’
Lt cdr Graham Inglis said: ‘It was a fantastic seven months away, to circumnavigate the Atlantic Ocean visiting over 18 countries and having 27 port visits in this time.
The stand out has to be being berthed at the shadow of Table Mountain in South Africa while we were there for a stand down.
‘Had a great time seeing the sights of Cape Town and wine yards, safari.
‘I have mum and dad here to see me home and a few weeks leave before back to work on 19th November.
‘We woke up yesterday morning with Land’s End in sight, it’s always great to be back into UK waters especially after seven months away.’
The ship’s company enjoyed an evening of entertainment from Bobby Davro, Jim Davidson, Russell Osman and Claire Sweeney last night.
Comedian Bobby Davro told The News: ‘It was fantastic.
‘We did a show last night and they took a helicopter out so we did the show in the hanger.
‘They are real heroes. We are so proud of our armed forces.
‘Coming into Portsmouth and seeing all the families, it was very emotional and I’ve only been here a day!’