Navy

HMS Diamond Returns To UK After NATO Deployment

The ship has been away for two months working with the alliance.

Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond has returned to the UK after working on a NATO deployment.

The ship has been helping NATO track air movements in the Gulf region, in the ongoing fight against so-called Islamic State.

Diamond was a critical part of the international effort - the air defence destroyer used her state-of-the-art technology to allow NATO forces to operate safely as she safeguarded the skies above.

Her role also focused on port visits to Crete, Cyprus, Malta and Gibraltar to reinforce the Royal Navy's long-standing links with the countries.

She has now returned after just two months of her deployment - when she left, the date of her return was unknown.

Families and friends held up signs and flags ahead of the ship's arrival.
Families and friends held up signs and flags ahead of the ship's arrival.

But HMS Diamond's arrival in Portsmouth, for many, was poignant.

"It was lovely to see his face when he saw us, he waved and blew us a kiss," said the wife of Petty Officer Stephen Gibbons.

 "It was emotional, only been away two months, but it was emotional", he said.

"I just wanted to see them both together [wife and baby son]...pictures don't paint anything when you hold him in your arms."

Petty Officer Stephen Gibbons wife his wife and son.
Petty Officer Stephen Gibbons wife his wife and son.

Leading Engineering Technician Adam Birkett said: "We were in a few difficult situations where we didn't know when we were coming home and if we were going home before Christmas or not. 

"So, it's a real pleasure to be home and see all the family and friends."

Sailors reunited with their loved ones.
Sailors reunited with their loved ones.

During her time in the Mediterranean, she also took part in a live firing exercise.

Her 200-strong crew were also tested by fighter jets including Tornadoes, Typhoons and F-16s, as well as E3 surveillance aircraft and Voyager transporters in the skies of Cyprus.

Captain Ben Keith, Commanding Officer of HMS Diamond, said: "I'm very proud of my ship's company. 

"They responded and reacted how you would expect to with absolute enthusiasm and drive to get the task done.

"We built an air picture in the eastern Mediterranean and we shared that picture amongst our allies, our RAF colleagues and allowed them to conduct operations against ISIS."