The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has congratulated the Royal Navy for its ‘momentous’ role in helping defeat Gaddafi’s troops in Libya as he sailed home to Hampshire on a Type 42 destroyer.
Mr Hammond was onboard HMS Liverpool as it returned to its base of Portsmouth.
HMS Liverpool has spent seven months on deployment to support Operation Unified Protector - the Nato mission to enforce UN resolutions to protect Libyan civilians which formally ended on October 31.
This involved the warship enforcing the no-fly zone and conducting embargo operations to prevent arms reaching pro-Gaddafi forces by sea.
About 1,300 family and friends waited on the jetty to welcome back their loved ones and members of the public lined the seawalls of Portsmouth to wave home the ship and its crew of 250 sailors.
As Liverpool sailed into the harbour, it fired a 15-gun salute and the ship’s Lynx helicopter did a flypast.
Family members waved flags and banners and cheered.
Speaking to the crew assembled in the ship’s hangar, Mr Hammond said: ‘I know the separation and time away has been tough and you will be looking forward to getting back tonight.
‘You have played a vital role in this operation. You came under fire, you responded with cool professionalism.
‘You should be proud of the part you played in creating a space where a country could rid itself of a tyrant and end a dictatorship which lasted for 40 years. Your bravery and professionalism is an inspiration to us.’