Reminder of why our navy is the envy of the world

STEVE CANAVAN: Take note of why I love this country so much

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It’s been seven long and eventful months since she and her crew last saw Portsmouth. So we are delighted to welcome home HMS Liverpool today – complete with a huge banner kindly made for us by the Hampshire Flag Company.

It must be a great feeling for those on board Liverpool – or the Crazy Red Chicken, as she is affectionately known – to finally come past the Round Tower again and see friends and family cheering and waving.

Since they were last here, they’ve served off the coast of conflict-torn Libya in support of Nato operations.

In the process Liverpool became the first Royal Navy warship to be fired on since the Falklands War back in 1982 – nearly 30 long years ago.

Her sailors spent a total of 81 hours at action stations on 28 separate occasions.

But they showed a high degree of skill and great professionalism when forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi launched rockets at the ship.

Suddenly all those hours of training were put into practice in very real circumstances of the kind that many naval personnel will thankfully never encounter in their whole careers.

Today Liverpool’s captain, Commander Geoff Williams, speaks of his pride and also his relief as his sailors get a well-deserved homecoming celebration at the end of an action-pqacked deployment.

We certainly echo his sentiments.

Cdr Williams says his 250 men and women return to Portsmouth ‘unscathed, wiser and a bit older’ after serving in extremely trying conditions.

We salute them and believe they are a fine example of what continues to make our navy the envy of the world.

As Liverpool returns to the naval base and the tired but smiling crew get to hug their loved ones once again, we believe it is timely to remind the government of the high calibre of people we are fortunate enough to have serving in our navy – and the fantastic job they do in protecting our shores and responding to calls from around the world.