OPENING up presents sent by his family back in Portsmouth, Chief Petty Officer Paul Simpson is one of many servicemen and women who celebrated Christmas far from home.
CPO Simpson is working at main operating base Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as part of the Military Stabilisation Support Team.
He joins thousands of sailors and Royal Marines who are serving away from home over the Christmas period. Two Hunt-class mine-countermeasure vessels, HMS Quorn and HMS Atherstone, are on maritime security patrols east of Suez.
The River-class patrol vessel HMS Clyde is in the South Atlantic along with Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh.
And Antarctic patrol ship HMS Protector is surveying the continent.
The Royal Navy says one in seven sailors, Royal Marines and Fleet Air Arm ground crew will be on duty over the holidays – more than 4,800 men and women in total.