Date set for HMS Dragon’s return to Portsmouth

HMS Dragon on operations off the coast of Cyprus. Below, a fishing dhow with HMS Dragon in the background. Picture: L(Phot) Dave Jenkins

HMS Dragon on operations off the coast of Cyprus. Below, a fishing dhow with HMS Dragon in the background. Picture: L(Phot) Dave Jenkins

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HMS Dragon will return to Portsmouth on Friday after eight months on operations.

The Type 45 destroyer is heading back to the city from her maiden deployment.

HMS DRAGON CONDUCTS ASURANCE VISITS IN THE GULF 23-04-2013.''''Today (23-04-2013) HMS DRAGON conducted a number of Assurance visits to fishermen in Gulf region. Although both of the ships sea boats were launched with the Armed Boarding Teams embarked, the purpose of the visit is to show a friendly face whilst trying to gain knowledge of the fisherman's habits.''''Image shows a fishing Dhow with HMS DRAGON in the background

HMS DRAGON CONDUCTS ASURANCE VISITS IN THE GULF 23-04-2013.''''Today (23-04-2013) HMS DRAGON conducted a number of Assurance visits to fishermen in Gulf region. Although both of the ships sea boats were launched with the Armed Boarding Teams embarked, the purpose of the visit is to show a friendly face whilst trying to gain knowledge of the fisherman's habits.''''Image shows a fishing Dhow with HMS DRAGON in the background

The eight months at sea saw the ship take part in maritime security and counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf.

She has also been on operations in the Mediterranean as part of the UK response to the crisis in the Middle East.

HMS Dragon was deployed off Cyprus to protect the two sovereign base areas on the island, which are home to more than 6,000 British servicemen and women and their families.

The ship joined forces with RAF units to generate a constant picture of activity in the region, as part of the air defence effort.

Captain Iain Lower, the commanding officer of HMS Dragon, said: ‘As HMS Dragon returns after her first ever deployment, I am immensely proud of what my ship’s company have achieved in the last eight months.

‘Dragon’s success is testament to the agility and hard work of all her people, who, building on the fine work of her predecessors, have set the standard for integration with our allies particularly with the US Navy.

‘When taken alongside the challenging environmental conditions and engineering and logistical complexities, I am very proud of the team.’

In the Indian Ocean, HMS Dragon visited nearly all of the Gulf states including Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

The ship carried out visits to local fishermen, keeping up a presence in the Gulf to deter any crime on the seas.

Engineering Technician Grant Mitchell, 20, is the youngest crew member.

He said: ‘It is a great feeling to be coming home after all we have done as a ship’s company in the last eight months.

‘Working with so many other countries’ navies and visiting so many places has been a great experience.’

The ship will mark her return by firing a 17-gun salute as she approaches Portsmouth Harbour.

HMS Dragon is expected to pass the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth at around 9.10am.

· Click here to read a series of special reports by defence correspondent Sam Bannister on board HMS Dragon in the Gulf.

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