Royal Navy's HMS Kent returns to Portsmouth - amid marriage proposals and a newborn baby
CHEERS reverberated around the naval base as after four months at sea with HMS Kent, Jordan Andrew asked for Portsmouth girl Charlotte Winsor’s hand in marriage.
Leading engineering technician, Jordan, was one of 185 sailors returning to Portsmouth on board HMS Kent after her deployment in the Middle East. After going down on one knee in front of his watching ship’s company, fortunately for Jordan, Charlotte said yes.
Jordan, 27, who bought the engagement ring while docked in Dubai, said: ‘I was confident she would say yes but you never really know these things for definite. I had decided before we set off for the Gulf that I was going to ask Charlotte to marry me when I returned.’
The proposal had come as a shock to Charlotte, also 27, who thought Jordan had won the prize to be first down the gangway as a result of winning a Christmas raffle.
‘I had no idea it was going to happen and was really surprised when he went down on one knee,’ she said.
‘It’s a fantastic feeling to be home for Christmas,’ added Jordan.
For petty officer, Luke Skilton, the return of HMS Kent was his first chance to meet his new son, six-week-old Harris Skilton who was born on October 31. His partner, Fiona McBride, was seven months pregnant when HMS Kent set sail.
Luke said: ‘It’s amazing to meet Harris – it was hard being away knowing Fiona was pregnant but due to the nature of my job I had to go. It’s fantastic to be back home for Christmas.’
Fiona added: ‘It was really difficult to be apart. However I’m delighted that Jordan is home and we can enjoy a family Christmas.’
Also waiting dockside was Harris’s brother, six-year-old Aaron Skilton.
‘I’m really happy to have my dad home,’ said Aaron.
While hundreds of people cheered from the dockyard as loved ones returned, some of those serving on HMS Kent had already been reunited with family who had joined them the previous day for an overnight stay.
One of those was Theo Brown, nine, the son of the ship’s captain, Commander Andy Brown.
Theo said: ‘It was really cool to spend the night on board and exciting to see my dad. The best Christmas present is having my dad home.’
Cdr Brown commented: ‘It is fantastic to be home for Christmas.’
HMS Kent had been deployed in the Gulf since August as part of Operation Kipion where she took part in counter-narcotics operations and escort duties in the Strait of Hormuz to police tensions with Iranian ships.
Cdr Brown said: ‘We were there to deal with any potential threat to merchant ships and helped to escort nearly 2 million tonnes of traffic through the strait. I could not be prouder of the ship’s company who have all repeatedly risen to every challenge and I wish them and all their family and friends a happy Christmas.’
Cdr Brown added that the level of threat in the region has now been downgraded.