Royal Navy ship returns to Portsmouth as happy families greet HMS Westminster back to city from the top of the Round Tower

TODAY the city welcomed back a Royal Navy frigate as HMS Westminster returned to Portsmouth after a demanding submarine hunting mission.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 3:20 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 3:21 pm

The ship has spent five months on a critical patrol safeguarding UK waters and keeping a close eye on submarines on operations as far north as the Arctic Circle.

Families gathered at Round Tower to welcome sailors home from their mission, waving them in as they entered Portsmouth Harbour.

Commanding officer commander Louise Ray said: ‘It is occasions like these that remind all of my team that we would struggle to do what we do without the support of our families and friends.

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HMS Westminster returns to Portsmouth after demanding submarine hunting mission. Picture: Royal Navy

‘Waving to all of those who were on the hot walls and Round Tower today is really important and I thank them, and all of our friends and family who could not make the journey, for the support they show us each and every day when we are deployed.’

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HMS Westminster sailors spent the festive period away from their loved ones on patrol after being at sea almost constantly since deploying last summer.

Christmas was spent alongside in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, which included a bracing open water swim for some hardy sailors.

Waiting to wave the frigate home at the top of the Round Tower. Picture: Royal Navy

The crew on the frigate spent 121 days of their 151-day deployment at sea, sailing 24,000 nautical miles and stopping in Hamburg in Germany, Trondheim in Norway and Reykjavik in Iceland along the way.

Operations were diverse, from May Day calls for missing paddle boarders in the Irish Sea to monitoring surfaced Russian submarines as they transited through the Strait of Dover.

The frigate had on board a Merlin helicopter – Kingfisher Flight of Culdrose-based 814 Naval Air Squadron, which uses both sonobuoy listening devices dropped into the ocean and sonar lowered as the helicopter hovers to pinpoint a submarine’s presence.

Sailors wave as they sail back into the city. Picture: Royal Navy

Westminster has been at the tip of the nation’s submarine hunting spear as the Royal Navy’s TAPS – the Towed-Array Patrol Ship – that is part of a comprehensive protective ring around waters key to UK interests.

The Type 23 frigate has patrolled vast areas of the Atlantic using her weapons and sensors to track submarine movements but also escort ships through waters closer to UK shores.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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