Crowds give a warm welcome to Royal Navy ship

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IT was a real spectacle under bright sunshine as a Royal Navy ship was welcomed home to Portsmouth.

Well-wishers gathered on the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth to wave to HMS Cattistock as she sailed into her base port following a three-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

BACK HOME HMS Cattistock returns to Portsmouth after a three-month deployment. Picture: Paul Jacobs  (131232-3)

BACK HOME HMS Cattistock returns to Portsmouth after a three-month deployment. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131232-3)

The ship’s company waved back, delighting the small crowd that gathered at 3.30pm yesterday.

The 685-tonne Hunt Class minehunter has conducted maritime security operations and trained with coalition allies to find and destroy sea mines.

Waving back at the ship was Dave Mason, a Royal Navy officer who was onboard HMS Cattistock until a week ago when he got off at Portugal.

He is now back in training at HMS Collingwood and was joined by wife Charlotte and two-year-old Molly – who were waving him off from the Round Tower only three months ago.

‘This is my first time from this side,’ said the 30-year-old.

‘I told them I was going to give them a wave when I was getting off last week.

‘This will be Lieutenant Commander Steve Higham’s last entry into Portsmouth. He leaves in a month.

‘I am sure he will have a tear in his eye.’

Amy Savage, 18, a student at Portsmouth University, was among the first to gather at the Round Tower to get a photograph.

Amy said: ‘I like boats and come out for every one I can.’

Jan Lyon, 68, from Southsea, had a tour of HMS Cattistock two years ago and wanted to see her in action.

She said: ‘I was born in Liverpool and used to go to the navy days at Chatham dockyard.

‘I moved to Portsmouth and the Royal Navy is my second family. I couldn’t miss this.’

Raymond Pither, 63, travelled from Havant to take pictures.

He said: ‘It’s just a hobby and I come down when the big ships come in like Illustrious.’

HMS Cattistock had sailed from Poole in Dorset after calling there on Friday.

The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Stephen Higham, said: ‘Our return home to Portsmouth marks the end of a very challenging period for MCM2 Crew 2.

‘Deployed for 12 months over the last 16, this has been a difficult time for families and friends.

‘However, I know they share my pride in what Crew 2 have achieved conducting missions across the military spectrum.’