SAILORS who spent the last seven months striking blow after blow to the drugs trade have returned home in time for Christmas with their families.
Portsmouth-based HMS Lancaster returned to the city yesterday morning after a deployment to the Caribbean.
During six raids the ship intercepted 1.2 tonnes of cocaine and almost 1.5 tonnes of cannabis.
As reported in The News, the ship’s company also detained 23 drug-runners and disrupted a sizeable amount of drugs which was ditched in the sea.
Yesterday families lined the jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base and cheered as the ship came alongside.
Petty Officer Chris Schofield, 34, from Fareham, said; ‘It’s great to be back home in time for Christmas with my family.
‘Everybody on board has been really excited as the day has been getting closer.
‘It has been a busy deployment and we have really made a difference out there.’
The drugs seized by HMS Lancaster had an estimated street value of around £160m.
In other parts of the world, Lancaster’s 185-strong crew put their skilled labour to good use by helping local communities in a wide range of projects from re-roofing houses and building bridges to painting hospitals and restoring cemeteries.
Leading Engineering Technician Che Goulding, 27, was met off the ship yesterday by his six-year-old son, who is also called Che.
Young Che said: ‘I’m really excited my daddy is home for Christmas.
‘I’ve been waiting for him to come back.’
Commander Peter Laughton is the ship’s commanding officer.
He said: ‘What Lancaster has achieved over the last seven months is nothing short of remarkable.
‘I’m extremely proud of my ship’s company who have worked tirelessly over the last seven months on the front line of naval operations and ultimately protecting our nation’s interests.’