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Rare treat for families as HMS Brocklesby returns to Portsmouth

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Traditional naval homecomings are a treat usually missed out on by the families of sailors who serve on the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based minehunters.

HMS Brocklesby and her sister ships tend to spend years at a time in the warm waters of the Gulf, with their crews flying home to be greeted on the tarmac at RAF Brize Norton.

But today, the Portsmouth-based ship sailed into the city after spending 10 weeks in the Mediterranean working with foreign navies.

It meant the families of those on board could enjoy the opportunity to gather on the jettyside at Portsmouth naval base and cheer their loved ones as they came alongside.

Petty Officer (Mine Warfare) James ‘Soapy’ Watson, 28, said: ‘It’s been really emotional actually.

‘There’s nothing better than coming home with a naval homecoming, we’re so used to coming home on a plane.

‘It’s good to be home and I’m really happy to be here.’

Brocklesby has been working as part of a multinational maritime force called the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 2.

Ships from allied nations operate together throughout the year defending sea routes from the threat of underwater mines and carrying out joint training exercises.

On her latest deployment Brocklesby worked with two German ships and Italian and Greek minehunters.

Lieutenant Commander Gregg Powell, HMS Brocklesby’s executive officer, said: ‘It’s quite a rare thing for us to be able to work with other countries.

‘We work with the United States a lot in the Gulf, however working in the Mediterranean with NATO allies is quite a rare treat for us so we can share tactics with them and get to know their navies.

‘It’s fantastic to come home and see all our families on the jetty.

‘When we come round the corner and see them there waving banners, it’s an amazing feeling.’

The crew now go on leave before returning to work to begin high-tempo training ahead of their Gulf deployment next year.

Brocklesby is one of eight Hunt-class minehunters of the Royal Navy’s 2nd Mine Counter-Measures Squadron, which specialises in finding mines in deep seas.

 

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