THERE were hugs, kisses and plenty of tears yesterday as HMS Middleton returned after three years of operations.
Family and friends gathered at Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday for the return of their loved ones, which has been home to the current crew for the past eight months.
Kelly Cary, 30 from Kent, was waiting for her husband Matthew with their seven-month-old baby, Ella.
She said: ‘He spent two weeks with her when she was born but this was the first time he had seen her since then.
‘It’s been a long time coming and we're just so excited to have him back home again. It’s been a very emotional morning.’
Derek Swenson, also from Kent, was there to welcome home his son, Michael.
He said: ‘I am very proud.
‘He has been in the navy for 20 years so I think he still enjoys it.
‘We’re all going out for a family meal together – there’s a big crowd of us that came to meet him so we're going to all spend some quality time together.’
Lieutenant Commander Daniel Morris, the commanding officer of HMS Middleton, says he is ‘immensely proud’ of his crew and what they have achieved together – including 4,000 hours of mine counter-measure operations across 40,000 miles.
He said: ‘There are a mix of emotions.
‘It’s wonderful to be home but I will miss all the camaraderie we had on board – we had an exceptional crew that had a no-fuss attitude to getting the job done and the maturity of some of the young guys has been extraordinary.
‘I don’t quite know what I’ll be doing with my shore leave – you’ll have to ask my wife! I think she wants to go on holiday though.’