An emotional homecoming is expected when the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset returns to HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, on Friday (24 February) following a six-month deployment to the Middle East.
Hundreds of ecstatic families and friends are expected to meet their loved ones on the jetty following the ship’s success in conducting maritime security operations to ensure the freedom of navigation to merchant vessels in the world’s busiest trade routes.
HMS Somerset’s second-in-command Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Aldous, said: “Our homecoming is a long and eagerly anticipated conclusion to a lengthy deployment. Although Somerset is well-equipped and her ship’s company well-trained, it cannot be under-estimated how well the spirit and moral of the team is bolstered by the support of family and friends at home. It is going to be an emotional day.”
HMS Somerset has remained at sea for up to six weeks continuously at any one time and visited Oman, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and the Seychelles. Whilst in various ports the crew engaged with their host nations on a variety of issues ranging from maritime security tactics to playing football; all of which served to strengthen international co-operation based on the shared need to protect maritime trade routes. The crew of the Type 23 frigate achieved some operational successes as well as providing life-saving assistance to stranded fishermen.
The homecoming is expected to be very moving; many of the sailors have not seen loved ones for many months, including separation over Christmas. As well as crowds waving to welcome the ship at Devil’s Point in Plymouth Sound, families will gather inside the naval base and joined by the rousing music of the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.
Throughout her deployment Somerset’s ship’s company have remained ready to respond to any tasking. She has predominantly been working under Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) as part of a task force which patrols the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. It is a multi-national endeavour and exists to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and piracy. Her principal mission was to deter, disrupt and defeat such actions.
Powerful and versatile with the capability to operate anywhere in the world, the Type 23 frigate is the mainstay of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet. The 13 Type-23 frigates form half of the frigate/destroyer force in the Royal Navy. Originally designed for the principal task of anti-submarine warfare, they have evolved into multi-purpose ships. As well as warfare roles, these ships conduct embargo operations using boarding teams, disaster relief work and surveillance operations.