HMS Westminster’s sailors will pay tribute to their missing shipmate Timmy MacColl when the warship returns home to Portsmouth Naval Base next week.
The ship’s company will leave a gap where the Gosport dad-of-two would have been standing for the ceremonial line-up on deck as the ship sails in on Monday.
Westminster’s 180 sailors are stunned that one of their own disappeared in Dubai in the early hours of May 27.
Timmy has not been seen since two shipmates put him in a taxi outside a nightclub at 2am and paid the fare to take him back to his warship docked at Port Rashid.
The frigate, which was visiting the Emirate during a break from duties in the Gulf, was ordered to sail without him four days later.
Westminster’s commanding officer, Captain Nick Hine, has flown home early. He met Timmy’s pregnant wife, Rachael, at the couple’s home in Rowner on Sunday.
Rachael, 25, who is expecting their third child in October, told how Capt Hine had spoken with her husband the day before he vanished.
She said: ‘Timmy had been talking about motorbikes and showed the captain the photo of the scan of our baby.
‘He said Timmy was in good spirits.’
She revealed Capt Hine had invited her on board for Monday’s homecoming but she’d declined the offer.
She said: ‘I’m not sure what I am going to do that day. I think the family wants to go out somewhere to take our minds off it.
‘I will watch the ship coming in, but I’ll do it from a distance.’
A Royal Navy spokesman confirmed a space will be left aboard Westminster on Monday in Timmy’s honour.
He said: ‘As is traditional on returning home, the ship’s company will be ceremonially lining the decks as the ship enters harbour.
‘They will leave a gap where Leading Seaman MacColl would have been standing on the deck to mark his absence.’
Mystery surrounds the sailor’s disappearance.
As previously reported in The News, Dubai police have spoken to the taxi driver who picked Timmy up outside the Rock Bottom Cafe in Dubai.
The driver told detectives he drove to Port Rashid but then got lost inside the large dockyard. He said he pulled over to ask for directions to HMS Westminster and Timmy, who is said to have been drinking, got out of the cab and walked off.
This is the last-known sighting of the sailor.
Divers from the Royal Navy minehunters HMS Middleton and HMS Pembroke were called in to search the waters around Port Rashid in June, but found no clues.