TWO Royal Navy warships will return home this week after clocking up almost 100,000 miles on counter-terrorism operations.
Portsmouth-based HMS Kent and HMS Dauntless have spent months at sea dividing their time between preventing criminal activity in the Indian Ocean and supporting missions against Isil in the Gulf.
HMS Kent became the first British warship to sail into the Gulf as part of a joint British/French carrier task group when she acted as anti-submarine warfare commander for French carrier Charles de Gaulle.
The role saw the ship protecting the carrier and battle group vessels from underwater threats while the carrier launched strikes against Isil in Iraq.
She also worked with the US carrier group USS Carl Vinson in the Gulf.
Commander Andrew Block, the commanding officer of HMS Kent, said: ‘I could not be more proud of my ship’s company, who have made a real impact in a volatile part of the world.
‘We have sailed over 47,000 miles, providing the crucial support to Charles de Gaulle’s strike operations against Isil – and before her USS Carl Vinson’s – and conducted maritime security patrols, reassuring the merchant traffic that the everyday lives of our families depend on.’
HMS Dauntless deployed to the Gulf in January and also supported the French and US navies by providing air defence cover. The deployment also included a visit to Kuwait where she hosted a reception for Prince Charles.
Commander Adrian Fryer, Dauntless’ commanding officer, said: ‘I am immensely proud of all that my ship’s company has achieved through their hard work and determination since we sailed from Portsmouth at the start of January.
‘Our successful deployment has highlighted the true versatility of the Royal Navy and the capabilities of the Type 45 destroyers.
‘Returning home is something we have all been looking forward to since we started the long trip back to the UK and I thank the families of all my sailors for the continued support they have given throughout our deployment.’
The ships are due to return to the city on Friday and will pass the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth at around 10am.