Live updates

HMS Atherstone home in time for Christmas

HMS Atherstone will arrive home in Portsmouth later Credit: Royal Navy

Christmas will begin today for the crew of HMS Atherstone - arriving back home in Portsmouth later.

The minehunter has been based in Bahrain for three years - her current crew took over in July.

Atherstone's role included conducting route surveys, sea-bed clearance and mine clearance operations throughout the Gulf region to protect busy shipping lanes.

She also provided a visible Naval presence in an area which supplies much of the UK's oil and gas.

HMS Atherstone working alongside allies in the Gulf

HMS Atherston's new crew started their latest Bahrain-based deployment with a joint Royal Navy and US Navy Mine Counter Measures Vessels (MCMV) exercise which practiced the ships ability to work with allies in the Gulf.

HMS Atherstone Credit: Royal Navy

Lieutenant Commander Andy Smith, Royal Navy Commanding Officer, Crew 2 and HMS Atherstone said, "The conditions in the Gulf present some of the most testing in the world for Mine Counter Measure operations.

"By developing our techniques and procedures across a broad environmental spectrum and by co-operating with our allies in the region we can be sure we’re ready to protect our nation’s interests, anywhere, anytime.”

Crew member on board HMS Atherstone Credit: Royal Navy