Royal Navy salutes its best ships of the last 12 months

Proud members of the ship's company watch as the giant warship inches her way to sea for the first time. From left, Able Seaman (AB) Natasha Elford, AB Layton Toward and AB Richard Mead

HMS Queen Elizabeth begins the long voyage to Portsmouth

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EFFORTS to bring peace to the Middle East and fight the spread of Ebola in Africa have been singled out as the Royal Navy recognises its best ships of the past 12 months.

More than a dozen Fleet Effectiveness Trophies are being awarded to surface ships and Royal Marines units whose actions and efforts in 2014 stood out above and beyond the normal call of duty.

HMS Defender, pictured left on the day she returned to Portsmouth from a seven-month maiden deployment in the Gulf, supported international efforts to strike at the forces of Isil, and has been named the best of the Fleet’s six Type 45 destroyers. RFA Argus – deployed to Freetown for the past two months with Portsmouth sailors, soldiers and airmen as part of Britain’s contribution to efforts to halt the progress of Ebola in Sierra Leone – was singled out as the finest of the 13 support vessels in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s flotilla.

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