Navy

HMS Dragon Returns After Aircraft Carrier Deployment

The ship returned to HMNB Portsmouth in time for Christmas, after deployment alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Navy's HMS Dragon has arrived home in Portsmouth after being deployed alongside aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Sailors lined the ship's deck as she was welcomed into the city by family and friends.

The Type 45 destroyer has been off the east coast of the United States, working with HMS Queen Elizabeth as she underwent operational testing of British fighter jets for the first time.

The deployment, known as Westlant 19, marked a key milestone in the HMS Queen Elizabeth's journey to becoming operational.

The £3.1bn warship is expected to deploy on operations for the first time in 2021.

Sailors were greeted by family members after three months away from home.

Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland also deployed on the exercise, forming part of the UK Carrier Strike Group.

HMS Dragon also exercised with US Navy vessels during her time away.

The crew are home in time for Christmas, returning to Portsmouth after three months away from loved ones.

Lieutenant Commander Nick Southall was overjoyed to see his family waiting on South Railway Jetty.

He said: "My two children here, they started school a week after we sailed - so it's the first time I've seen them as schoolchildren."

HMS Dragon broke new naval ground with this deployment, becoming the first Type 45 vessel to escort HMS Queen Elizabeth. 

The ship's captain, Commander Giles Palin, described the duty as a "real honour" for the crew.

"This is what these ships were designed to do," he said.

"They are air-defence destroyers; their role is to protect carriers and their task groups from threats in the air [and] all around them."

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to return to Portsmouth in the coming weeks.