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.
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.
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."
AFC Bournemouth legend Steve Fletcher and Sam Matthews visited Twynham Comprehensive School last week to help raise money for the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Philippines.
The duo visited the school, based in Christchurch, to sign items for the school to later auction to rebuild the lives of those affected by the disaster, which forced over 4 million people from their homes.
Fletcher also led a question and answer session with Matthews, as the two entertained pupils with tales about life as a footballer at AFC Bournemouth.
Staff at the school also took part in a ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ eating challenge, and the whole school contributed to a spare change appeal, with the two activities raising, as it stands, an additional £115 on top of the money raised via the auction.
Hundreds of boxes of food and clothing donated by villagers in Kent are being shipped out to the Philippines this afternoon. A cafe owner from Chart Sutton, near Maidstone, appealed for donations when Typhoon Haiyan struck. Enough poured in to fill a 40 foot container.
Portsmouth-based, HMS Illustrious, is continuing its mission to deliver 500 tonnes of humanitarian aid in the Philippines.
The ship is stationed off the coast of the filipino island of Panay - as the crew focus their effort on dozens of smaller islands to the west - many of which had not received any aid since Typhoon Haiyan.
For the 950 people on-board, though, it means Christmas away from home. Well, ITV Correspondent, Dan Rivers is with them - and sent this
Helicopters from HMS Illustrious have begun to deliver aid, people and equipment to small Philippine islands devastated by Typhoon Haiyan over a fortnight ago.
The Portsmouth-based helicopter and commando carrier arrived in the region to the north of Panay on Monday and immediately began surveying nearby islands to assess their needs.
Recce teams were sent to three islands – Calagnaan, Canas and Bayas – and found extensive damage to homes and local infrastructure with little in the way of long term food supplies.
ITV Meridian presenter Amanda Piper has been speaking to Commander Kerry Harris of HMS Illustrious, as the ship continues to provide aid to the Philippines. The vessel arrived in the country on Monday 25th November.
Its crew are expected to still be in the Philippines over Christmas, assisting with the crisis relief effort after Typhoon Haiyan.