OVERCOME with pride and emotion, scores of delighted families embraced their loved ones as they returned home from a six-month Nato mission in Europe.
Passionate crowds lined up at Portsmouth naval base to cheer and wave as Type 23 Frigate HMS Iron Duke arrived back in style.
Many families came along and waved flags and banners in support of the men and women, who have worked overseas with a multinational Nato task group.
The crew saluted and posed for pictures as they sailed in, and greeted their loved ones with bouquets of flowers as they came ashore.
Proud parents Robin and Lesley Darnell made the trip from Rotherham to welcome home their son, Oliver, 24.
Joining them was Oliver’s girlfriend, Ashleigh, 22.
Lesley said: ‘It’s a proud day for the family.
‘He had his 24th birthday while out at sea.
‘He has been terribly missed by everyone. It’s a big occasion.’
Gemma Waldrom, of Stubbington, was all smiles as she eagerly awaited the arrival of her husband, warrant officer Lee Waldrom.
Their son, Oscar, three, was also brimming with excitement.
Gemma said: ‘It’s a huge occasion. It’s the first time he has been away from us.
‘Oscar’s really missed his daddy, it’s the first time they’ve been apart.’
The family of chef Sam Newman was in high spirits.
His mum, Claire, 50, of Essex, said: ‘We are all very proud of him.
‘It’s the life he has chosen so we have to carry on with life while he is away.’
Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Aldous, said: ‘It’s been incredible. It’s been a family celebration.’