They’ve spent nine months circling the globe, and today the 220 sailors on board HMS Daring were reunited with their families at last.
The Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer returned to Portsmouth this morning after clocking up 44,000 miles during nine months at sea.
More than 1,000 people lined the jetty side at Portsmouth Naval Base to welcome home their loved ones on board HMS Daring.
Children waved banners and posters they had been up all night making for their parents, as the ship’s company departed the destroyer.
It has been nine long months since the ship sailed from Portsmouth on a deployment which took sailors around the world.
Today, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, aunts and uncles, were reunited with their loved ones.
An almighty cheer went up as the ship’s company rushed down the gangway.
HMS Daring and her crew made headlines across the world in November when she was diverted to the Philippines following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
During nine days, Daring and her ship’s company surveyed 42,200 square miles covering more than 70 islands.
They treated 300 patients and delivered 21 tonnes of stores and 7,656 litres of fresh drinking water ashore.
The warship had been on a routine exercise in the South China Sea when she was diverted to the Philippines.
Operations Officer Lieutenant Jason Hannigan said: ‘Within minutes of receiving our tasking the plan was being drawn together and within hours the ship was ready to provide humanitarian aid and support.
It was a devastating situation but a thoroughly rewarding experience for the whole ship’s company.’
Since leaving Portsmouth in May last year Daring has visited 21 different ports, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, supported anti-piracy operations in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Aden and tracked ballistic targets during trials in the Pacific Ocean.
Her commanding officer, Commander Angus Essenhigh said: ‘The ship’s company has achieved a huge amount in the nine months we’ve been away and they are rightly proud of their achievements.
‘We have worked closely with many navies in support of shared global challenges such as counter-piracy, preventing conflict and protecting citizens overseas, but perhaps our most significant contribution was in the delivery of relief to the people of the Philippines following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.
‘Right now we are all looking forward to being reunited with our loved ones and enjoying a well-earned rest.’
Daring started her deployment in the Caribbean, working with the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (South) to combat the trade of narcotics and illegal human traffic across the region.
She then headed west where no Type 45 had been before – the Panama Canal.
Following science and technology trials in the Pacific Ocean with the US Navy, Daring made for Australasia to exercise with an international fleet of 18 warships from 12 nations.
She also joined ships from around the world in Sydney Harbour to celebrate the Royal Australian Navy’s 100th birthday.
Daring was one of around 40 warships from 17 countries which gathered for a spectacular International Fleet Review.
After her relief efforts in the Philippines the ship continued east for more joint exercises – this time with the Japanese Navy and its brand new warship Teruzuki. And in the East China Sea Daring seized a rare opportunity to train with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy).
The ship spent Christmas in Singapore and in January joined forces to share best practice with the Royal Thai Navy, Indonesian Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy.
For Able Seaman Amy Gocher it was her first deployment.
She said: ‘This has been a million miles away from my previous job in a supermarket, but the attraction of foreign lands has kept homesickness at bay.
‘Having crossed the equator and the international date line, the 21 ports we visited couldn’t have been more varied.
‘Helping people in the Philippines was a highlight and a real privilege.
‘I supported boat operations and helped load them with essential stores and personnel so that people ashore could distribute aid.
‘The ship’s company felt immensely proud to be part of the humanitarian relief following the typhoon, it is one of the reasons that most of us join the navy – to make a difference.’