Families welcome home their loved ones on HMS Astute

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With arms outstretched, five-year-old Amber Theobold welcomes her dad home after he spent eight months at sea.

Submariner Dan Theobold, from Portsmouth, disembarked HMS Astute at Clyde Naval Base in Scotland yesterday after returning from the submarine’s maiden deployment.

REUNITED Submariner Dan Theobold, from Portsmouth, hugs daughter Amber, five, after disembarking HMS Astute Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

REUNITED Submariner Dan Theobold, from Portsmouth, hugs daughter Amber, five, after disembarking HMS Astute Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

The vessel left Scotland in February to become the first Astute-class submarine to contribute to the UK’s presence in the Mediterranean.

Commander Gareth Jenkins, the commanding officer, said the deployment had been a huge success. He said: ‘The ship’s company has been outstanding and I am pleased that so many of their families are here today to welcome them back to the home of the submarine service.’

During her eight months at sea, HMS Astute travelled more than 27,000 miles and took part in counter-smuggling operations and an international exercise.

The deployment saw seven men qualify as submariners, including 19-year-old Connor Campbell, who was met at Faslane by his proud parents, sister and girlfriend.

REUNITED Submariner Dan Theobold, from Portsmouth, hugs daughter Amber, five, after disembarking HMS Astute Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

REUNITED Submariner Dan Theobold, from Portsmouth, hugs daughter Amber, five, after disembarking HMS Astute Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

He said: ‘It was quite exciting getting off the boat and seeing everyone. It’s been hard work but it’s definitely been worth it.

‘You get used to the conditions after a while. Now I’m just looking forward to getting home and relaxing.

His mother Jane, 44, said: ‘It feels great to have him back. I’m very proud of him.’

Thomas Bett, 26, said what he missed most while at sea was his own bed.

He said: ‘It’s not that bad – you have a Mess you can sit in and the food’s okay. The main thing I miss is my double bed -– it’s more comfortable.’

Mr Bett was welcomed home by sister Nicola, 37, and her husband, who he lives with.

She said: ‘It’s fabulous to be here and see him come off the boat. It’s been hard and we’ve missed him, but I’ve not missed the washing.’

Astute was launched in June 2007 at BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness and was commissioned during a ceremony at Faslane attended by the Duchess, the boat’s sponsor, in August 2010.

Faslane is the home of the UK submarine service and all seven of the Class vessels - Astute, Ambush, Artful, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and Ajax - will be ported there.