MISSING the birthdays of his two young lads was the toughest part of the tour for Petty Officer Nigel Fleetwood.
The veteran sailor from Gosport could only celebrate the birthday of his two boys, Coby, 10, and Kaiden, nine, over Skype while he was in the Gulf.
But he is now looking forward to being there for the fourth birthday of his youngest boy, Jacob, this month.
PO Fleetwood said: ‘I have been in the navy for 15 years now so you just have to get on with it. But it is horrible leaving your family behind.
‘Modern technology makes it easier – I could Skype and WhatsApp everyone. But it is horrible. No parent wants to spend eight months away.’
His lads all came together to make signs to welcome home their dad.
Kaiden, who ran over to hug his father as he got off HMS Chiddingfold, said: ‘It was hard not having dad here for my birthday. We’ve really missed him.’
Wife Lorraine Fleetwood, 29, said: ‘It’s so exciting. he kids can’t wait. It’s been difficult because he has been away for eight months.’