HMS Illustrious heading back home from Philippines

Portsmouth based HMS Illustrious, which has been helping in the aftermath of the Philippines disaster, is returning home today.

HMS Illustrious returns to Portsmouth

They've spent 152 days at sea - sacrificing christmas with their families to help others in desperate need of vital aid.

But today, sailors on board HMS Illustrious finally returned to Portsmouth to a rapturous welcome.

The vessel was due to return in December but was diverted to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan to help with the relief effort.

Although it's a month later than planned, today's homecoming was an emotional reunion for the families of the 650 crew on board. Richard Jones reports.

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Family and friends wait for HMS Illustrious to arrive

Friends and family wait for loved ones on board HMS Illustrious to arrive in Portsmouth Credit: ITV Meridian

Christmas at last for sailors and their families.

Thousands of people have gathered on the dockside at Portsmouth Naval Base to welcome home the carrier HMS Illustrious.

The ship was due home before Christmas but was diverted to the Philippines to help deliver aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

So for many of the crew and their families, Christmas celebrations will this weekend!

Illustrious spent three weeks in the typhoon-affected region delivering supplies and carrying out repairs to buildings.

The crew believe they were able to help at least 40,000 people, many in some of the most isolated areas.

She has been away since August and will now undergo essential maintenance before going back to sea later in the year.

Philippines to Portsmouth, HMS Illustrious comes home

HMS Illustrious is heading back to the UK after helping in the aftermath of the Philippines disaster.

The ship and her 650 crew members delivered emergency aid supplies in response to the typhoon.

The 23,000-tonne ship was operating in the Gulf when it was diverted to the Philippines to relieve HMS Daring, which was one of the first ships on the scene.

Commanding Officer, Captain Mike Utley, said, "Our capabilities perfectly matched what was required in the Philippines.

"We were able to get to where we were needed quickly and our size and flexibility meant that we could store and distribute extremely large volumes of emergency aid supplies."

HMS Illustrious Credit: © UK Crown copyright 2013