THEY might be thousands of miles from home, but sailors on board HMS Daring aren’t quite out of reach of Cupid’s arrows.
The ship’s company of the Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer have proved absence really does make the heart grow fonder by forming up on their flight deck to make a heartfelt message to their loved ones at home.
All 200 men and women on board are looking forward to being reunited with their families at the end of the month, as they head home from a nine-month deployment which has taken them around the world.
Newlyweds will reunite with their other halves, and fathers will meet children born just a few weeks before they sailed.
Lieutenant Jason Hannigan is HMS Daring’s operations officer.
He said: ‘We have proven this is a very capable warship, but without the support of our loved ones our sailors would not be able to operate at their best.
‘Daring’s naval family has been stretched over many thousands of miles, but we have all been there for each other.’
The destroyer has been all round the world during her nine months at sea, including visiting the Far East, and rapidly mobilising to the Philippines to provide disaster relief.
Chief Petty Officer (Weapon Engineer) Steve Hull, who is in charge of maintaining the ship’s guns, said: ‘It’s been a busy time keeping all the ship’s armaments ready for operations and I’ve enjoyed preparing all the guns for the live firing exercises we’ve undertaken.
‘Aside from the work aspect though, I have to say I am really looking forward to getting home in time for my daughter’s wedding.’
After leaving Portsmouth in May last year, the ship has called at 21 different ports, and sailed more than 38,000 miles.
She has crossed the Atlantic Ocean, supported anti-piracy operations in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Aden, tracked ballistic targets in the Pacific Ocean, and provided humanitarian support after Typhoon Haiyan.
Engineering Technician (Marine Engineer) Leanne Kelland, 18, is the youngest sailor on board.
She said: ‘As a first deployment this has been amazing.
‘I have seen so much of the world and was so proud to be able to help in the Philippines.
‘I do miss my mum’s homemade spaghetti bolognese, though...’
HMS Daring has now finished her transit of the Suez Canal after escorting the French Navy ship Meuse through the Bab El Mandeb strait.
Commander Angus Essenhigh, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘Everyone on board appreciates the wonderful support they receive from home.
‘It is a significant contributing factor to the morale of each and every sailor and therefore to our ship’s fighting efficiency.’