THE commanding officer on board HMS Quorn has spoken of his pride at bringing the Royal Navy minehunter home to Portsmouth.
The ship’s company of HMS Quorn returned home to cheers and a few happy tears yesterday morning.
The 44 crew members of the Portsmouth-based minehunter have been away for eight months in the Gulf, where the ship has been based since May 2011.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Stuart Yates, 41, said it was a special day for the ship as well as her crew.
Lt Cmdr Yates said: ‘It’s a privilege and honour to bring the ship back after three years as well bringing the crew back to their loved ones.
‘HMS Quorn has made a significant contribution in the Gulf and we have left having made our mark across a wide range of activities as part of the UK mine countermeasures force.’
Lt Cdr Yates said temperatures were in the 30s when the crew arrived in the Gulf but had hit more than 40C by the time they left.
‘It was quite a relief when we left the operating area,’ he said.
The minehunter has been a key part of Britain’s contribution to Operation Kipion, responsible for keeping the sea lanes open and combating illegal maritime activity in the region.
Coming home couldn’t be sweeter for Able Seaman (Mine Warfare) Greg Learoyd, of Southsea.
It was the 28-year-old’s first deployment since joining the navy two years ago.
Meeting him onshore was fiancée Holly Sinclair, 22. ‘It’s great to be back,’ he said.
AB Learoyd (pictured with Miss Sinclair) said there were both positive and more challenging aspects of being aboard a minesweeper.
He said: ‘The fraternity on board is fantastic.
‘We’ve become more than friends – like brothers, and I like that family element.
‘But on a small ship, we feel the sea a lot more than big ships would, so it’s a very rocking and rolling experience.’
Holly said she was thrilled to have her boyfriend back.
She said: ‘It’s amazing. It’s been a long eight months.
‘It’s lovely to have him back.’
The minehunter’s crew will now enjoy some well-earned leave.
Ship’s moniker stems from centuries-old tradition
AN OBVIOUS question about HMS Quorn is how did the ship get its name?
Although she shares her name with a brand of vegetarian food, the origins are a good measure more carnivorous.
The minehunter is named after the Quorn Hunt of Leicestershire.
Established in 1696, the hunt is one of the world’s oldest fox hunting packs and its organisers claim it is the most famous hunt in Britain.
HMS Quorn celebrated her 25th birthday while in the Gulf and paid visits to Muscat, Malta and Toulon and Gibraltar on her journey home.