Two hundred families and friends gave a warm welcome today to submariners from HMS Torbay as she returned to the UK from helping disrupt piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
Crowds cheered the Trafalgar-class submarine as she passed Devil’s Point in Plymouth Sound with sailors lining the casing and then entered her base port of HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth.
The nuclear-powered submarine has been successful in helping reduce the danger of transporting cargo on the high seas. The UK is taking an active role in helping end to piracy in the Middle East and HMS Torbay has played a key role.
HMS Torbay has just completed its second deployment in quick succession to the Middle East where she has been providing major contributions to the UK ‘s efforts in the region. Whilst being ready to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at a moment’s notice, HMS Torbay has played a key role by providing vital surveillance for forces in the area.
Commander Chris Goodsell, the captain of HMS Torbay, was met by his wife Fiona and their daughters Katriona, 13, Eleanor, 9, and Phoebe, 6. He said: “It’s fantastic to have such a welcome home. We are very proud of going away and doing our job, we had several key successes, but nothing beats the recognition of your loved ones.
“This has been a very strong show of support from our families and friends at Devonport.. The crew deserve it because they can take enormous professional satisfaction from a job well done.”
Commander Goodsell led a 127-strong team of submariners on the operation and was proud of the hard work and determination of all his men: “The submarine service is unique; our time away has been tough yet rewarding. We have done our bit, provided support to the surface ships in the area and helped to prevent pirate attacks. The truly amazing thing is that the pirates didn’t even know we were there.”
Fiona said: “It’s fantastic to have him back. This was his last trip with HMS Torbay after three years with her. Now he’s off to Shrivenham.” Katriona said: “I have missed dad a lot. It’s exciting he’s back.”
‘We come unseen’ is the motto of the Submarine Service, and HMS Torbay has truly stuck to it. Unlike the submarines of the past, the crew now have access to emails and free phone calls home when the operational tempo allows. They can also get free postage on ‘morale’ letters sent by friends and family back in the UK .
Having completed the operation, the crew were able to take some well earned rest in the United Arab Emirates and Crete . From Crete they travelled back to Devonport and are now in a short maintenance period.
Keeping the crew sustained during a long operation is always challenging. Since being away the crew have eaten 12780 sausages, 24,500 rashers of bacon, 1690 ice-creams and had 13 curry nights. Despite this, everyone is still excited about returning home and is ready to see all the families on the jetty. Their time at home will be brief as TORBAY deploys again later in the year.
Lieutenant Commander David Filtness, HMS Torbay Operations Officer, of Callington, Cornwall , was hugged by his wife Becca as he stepped onto the jetty. He said: “It’s brilliant to be back home and see my family again. We had some good time ashore, the rest was hard work, but successful.”
Laura Roberts, of Plymstock, Plymouth, the wife of HMS Torbay Logistics Officer, Lieutenant Mike Roberts, organised the welcome home and previous group outings for families of the crew while the submarine was deployed using a welfare fund. She met him with their son Will, (age two). She said: “It’s great to have Mike back. I was due to see him in Dubai with Will, but had to cancel when he was take seriously ill. So it’s been extra important for his dad to see Will.
“The social events I organised have helped bond families so we all gain from mutual support which is needed, especially when we have little contact with them being submerged. The families have said they find this mutual support comforting and valuable. We all get to know each other which would not otherwise happen. I think the men also find it reassuring to know this is provided to us back home.”
Able Seaman Matthew Peterson (sonar operator) of Torpoint, Cornwall, was greeted by his in-laws from the Isle of Wight and his wife Laura and their children Ryan (aged seven months), and Ciaran (two years). Laura said: “Matthew has missed some important stages in the boy’s short life as they are so young. Ciaran has started talking sentences, for instance. It’s so god he’s back now.”
Matthew said: “I’m please to be home. This is my 4th or 5th trip away now, but it is always special to be back. The tempo was stop and start and very hard work, but rewarding. The boys have changed a lot even since I last saw them a few months ago.”
Lieutenant Steven Mcallister, 36, of Portsmouth, was given a warm welcome by his wife Lyndsey and their children Lauren (aged two years) and Chloe (aged two years). Steven said: “It’s so good to see my family on the jetty. We had an interesting and successful deployment. But will be great to be back in a comfy bed at home.”
Lyndsey said: “This is really good for the children because they can see a submarine for the first time. They are at an age now where they miss daddy a lot and ask where he is. This is the first time I have seen them come home in the UK, but have been to Bermuda and Lisbon in the past. This is his second time away in Torbay.