Hundreds of families welcomed back their loved ones for Christmas as HMS Iron Duke returned to Portsmouth from a successful South Atlantic patrol conducting maritime security operations and providing support to British Overseas Territories in the region.
The Type 23 frigate and her 180 crew covered 27,442 miles and visited 11 countries during the six-month deployment.
The ship left the UK in June and travelled down the west coast of Africa, across the South Atlantic to the Falkland Islands, up the west coast of South America and through the Panama Canal back to Portsmouth.
She paid goodwill port visits in the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Panama, Haiti, Barbados and the Azores and also visited the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.
Iron Duke’s Commanding Officer, Commander Thomas Tredray, said: “This has been a very successful deployment for HMS Iron Duke. We have represented the Royal Navy and the UK around the world, on the high seas and during a wide variety of port visits. Throughout this, the ship’s company have achieved everything that has been asked of them and I am very proud of how well they have performed.”
Defence engagement during the deployment included exercising with forces from Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria and France and hosting a UK Trade and Industry event in Lagos, Nigeria, on behalf of the Home Office.
On patrol around the Falkland Islands the vessel visited several outlying settlements and conducted training with other British forces.
A transit through the Panama Canal was followed by a visit to Haiti which last hosted a British naval vessel in 2010. Iron Duke hosted a conference on illegal immigration and the ship’s company also got ashore to help local UN forces with several community regeneration projects.
During the deployment the ship has produced more than seven million litres of fresh water and the crew have eaten their way through 7,760 sausages and 1.5 tonnes of baked beans. And through a number of charity events on board, including horse racing, darts and whole-ship Cluedo, they raised more than £2,000 for various charities.
Chef Lewis Stafford, 26, one of nine chefs on board, said: “This has been the first deployment of my career, and I won’t forget it anytime soon. It has been a great opportunity to really get stuck into my various job roles, hobbies and interests. In Guinea I took part in the outreach project where we painted a school and helped create a better learning environment for those who studied there. This was a very memorable and reflective experience.” (RN)