Two warships coming home at the same time

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HMS Queen Elizabeth sailing back into Portsmouth

PICTURE GALLERY: HMS Queen Elizabeth sails back into Portsmouth

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TWO Royal Navy warships are due to return home to Portsmouth at the same time on Thursday.

In an unusual joint homecoming, frigates HMS Iron Duke and HMS Richmond will pass the Round Tower one after another from 10.30am.

Iron Duke, which spent almost seven months east of the Suez Canal, will return on a high following several intense days of operations in Libya last week.

Relieving HMS Liverpool, the Type 23 frigate pounded pro-Gaddafi troops with shells for three days in a wave of attacks against the regime.

Richmond is returning from a seven-month deployment operating as far east as Brunei and as far south as the Seychelles, deep into the Indian Ocean.

Since leaving in January, Richmond has been involved in anti-piracy patrols and helped a cargo ship deliver 9m meals from the United Nation’s World Food Programme into Somalia.

Diplomatic visits saw Iron Duke stop over in Kuwait to mark 50 years of independence and 20 years since forces liberated the country from Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1991 Gulf War.

Richmond, meanwhile, went to Changi naval base for the International Maritime Defence Exhibition, where she acted as a floating conference centre to help British companies secure export contracts.

The two warships will enter Portsmouth Naval Base just before 11am to be met by crowds of friends and families waiting at the jetty.