Homecoming for Portsmouth men who made Suez Canal safe in 1974

Bombs, grenades, anti-personnel mines, missiles and rockets by the hundred had been cleared by the men of a Royal Navy task force.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 10:14 am
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 4:22 pm
Three-year-old Stephen Bridgeland found himself the centre of attention when he boarded HMS Abdiel. Stephen is seen with his father, Leading Seaman David Bridgeland. Watching are, from left: navy minister Frank Judd, Commander D Husband, Leading Seaman Bill Cunningham and Able Seaman Stan Stanley.

Three of the ships from the task force – the minelayer HMS Abdiel and the minehunters HM Ships Wilton and Maxton – arrived in Portsmouth after seven months in Suez, and the ships’ companies described their dangerous task as ‘just routine’.

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During the operation, divers from the ships and a fourth, HMS Bossington with the Royal Navy’s fleet clearance diving team, had helped to make the Suez Canal safe for the world’s shipping.

Commander David Husband, Commanding Officer of the task force, said items detected and removed from the canal ranged from tin cans to tanks. They included anti-personnel mines the size of a finger and bombs of up to 1,000lb – the debris from the war-torn Middle East.

After working in temperatures of more than 100C, the three ships arrived in Portsmouth to a warm welcome by families and an official welcome from the navy minister Frank Judd.