A WARSHIP has returned to Portsmouth in time for Christmas after spending eight weeks in the freezing waters around Iceland and Norway.
HMS Westminster departed the city on October 15, sailing to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík to join Exercise Trident Juncture, Nato’s biggest war game in almost three decades.
The operation saw about 50,000 personnel from 31 countries, including 61 ships, participating in exercises off the west coast of Norway for a three-week period.
Commander Will Paston, Westminister’s commanding officer, said: ‘The last few months have been a really good opportunity to work with our Nato allies across the Baltic region. I am pleased to say that the deployment has been a resounding success and this was made easier by the support that we get from our friends and families at home, when we are away.’
After the intensive period of multi-national exercises, HMS Westminster visited Oslo, Riga, Stockholm and Gdynia; hosting high profile visitors such as the Swedish Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist.
The ship was present in Riga for the 100th anniversary of Latvian independence, in which the Royal Navy played a key role, and was fully incorporated within the celebrations.
It wasn’t all work whilst deployed and the ship’s company continued the defence engagement on the sports field with multiple fixtures including rugby, football and indoor cricket.
The sporting teams gained some valuable experience during these fixtures having spent around 200 days away from Portsmouth in 2018, limiting the amount of practice they could complete before the port visits.
The ship’s company now gets to recover from a busy 2018, with the opportunity to spend time with their friends and family over Christmas who have been so supportive throughout the year.