Royal Navy minehunter HMS Atherstone arrives back in Portsmouth tomorrow after more than three years on security operations in the Gulf.
The vessel has been based in Bahrain for three years and seven months, with her current crew of 45 taking over in July this year.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Mark Headley said: ‘Our homecoming is a fantastic finale to a highly successful six months deployed upholding the UK’s reputation of operating some of the finest front-line mine warfare forces in the world, together with building partner capabilities and reassuring other nations.
‘To bring HMS Atherstone back to Portsmouth three years and seven months after she set sail for deployment is a rare privilege within the mine countermeasures community.
‘Arriving home in time for Christmas is obviously a huge bonus and my crew can now enjoy some well-earned rest and leave.’
Atherstone has covered 51,220 nautical miles, conducted more than 8,630 hours of operational tasking and visited 12 countries across three continents.
She sailed from Portsmouth in May 2012 to help ensure security and stability.
Four UK minehunters work with regional allies and international organisations to help promote partnerships and improve the global community’s ability to maintain freedom of navigation in one of the world’s busiest areas of water.
Atherstone’s role included conducting route surveys, sea-bed clearance and mine clearance operations throughout the Gulf region.
to protect busy shipping lanes. She also provided a visible Naval presence in an area which supplies much of the UK’s oil and gas and therefore vital to the country’s economy.