The frigate HMS Argyll returns to her Devonport base todayafter a deployment to the Middle East that haskept her away for 186 days. More than 600 friends and family are expected toline the quayside to cheer as their loved ones come home.
Two dads are keen to get alongside to see their new bornbabies. They both flew home to be present for the births, but then rejoined theship.
Another baby is due to meet his record breaking grand-dadfor the first time. Leading Logistician John Wicking hasn’t yet seen his secondgrandchild who was born during the deployment. This latest trip means John hasracked up a total of 5,100 days away making him officially the Royal Navy’s sailor with the most days spent at sea. He’s even got a personal letter fromthe First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, to prove it.
Two Hercules aircraft are due to make a fly past to welcome the ship back. There’ll be a piper playing on top of the ship’s bridge, and with the band of the Royal Marines playing on the quayside as well it promises to be a raucous home-coming.
The ship has been operating out of Bahrain as part of the 25-nation Combined Maritime Forces to ensure the safety of shipping in the Gulf and around to the Red Sea. She’s been helping in anti-terrorist and anti-piracy operations and provided a Royal escort when Prince Charles visited Kuwait.
Argyll paid a visit to Beirut on her return trip, the first British warship to dock there since the evacuation of British citizens during a clash between Israeli and Hezbollah forces in 2006. This time the frigate took part in exercises with the Lebanese Navy, many of whose officers trained at Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.
Most of the crew will now have some well-deserved leave before preparing for their next deployment.