Praise for sailors away over Christmas

Drink-driver jailed for killing man riding pony and trap

The second-in-command of the Royal Navy has praised sailors who spent Christmas protecting oil terminals in Iraq and guarding the waters in the Arabian Gulf.

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar had a whistle-stop tour in Umm Qasr, home of the Iraqi Navy and the joint UK-US team training its personnel.

The admiral toured the base and stepped aboard one of Iraq's new Swift class patrol craft, the first of several boats which will eventually take full responsibility for protecting Iraqi territorial waters.

He also had time with a handful of Royal Navy personnel who occupy positions in the staff of Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces and Mina Salman - home to four Royal Navy mine hunters, a team of engineers from the Fleet Support Unit, and RFA Lyme Bay which acts as the headquarters for the Commander UK Mine Countermeasures Forces.

More than 1,300 Senior Service men and women were on duty east of Suez during the holiday season and Admiral Soar took the opportunity to praise their hard work.

He said: 'As people in Britain were enjoying their Christmas meal, I hope they spared a thought for the sailors, Royal Marines and support staff in the Gulf who were working for their interests over the festive period - as they do 365 days a year - in support of maritime security and freedom of the seas.'