IT’S a navy homecoming with a difference.
Instead of teary family members cheering them in at the dockside, these sailors were flown home.
It’s because sailors who serve on board minehunters come back by plane, as their ships tend to remain behind in the Gulf.
The crews of Portsmouth-based HMS Quorn and Faslane-based HMS Ramsey have now flown home after a six-month mission keeping the region’s waters safe.
But instead of scattering the moment they hit the tarmac, they decided to stage a homecoming party at a nearby hotel.
And the lack of ceremony didn’t matter to the families and friends who gathered to meet their loved ones.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Ottewell, HMS Ramsey’s commanding officer, said: ‘Rather than trickle out one-by-one from the arrivals gate, we wanted to mark the end of our 182-day deployment in style by arriving back together as one team to a short homecoming event in a hotel.
‘It gives us all something of the emotion, ceremony, and sense of accomplishment that a ship gets when it returns alongside in the UK after a long deployment – something that is impossible to replicate in an airport.’
Two year-old Todd and his older brother Finn Jones, four, were dressed in matching ‘I love my daddy’ T-shirts by mum Jenny to welcome home HMS Quorn’s Leading Diver Toby Jones, from Emsworth.
Petty Officer Roy McIntosh, HMS Quorn’s deputy weapon engineer officer, said: ‘It’s great to be back.
‘We get used to sailing back into port after deployment and having emotional receptions, so to have this welcome at a hotel after a long flight home is just fantastic.
‘After six months away over the festive period, I’m now looking forward to celebrating a belated Christmas and New Year with the family.’
After their leave, HMS Quorn’s sailors are due to take over HMS Hurworth.