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Families Reunite As HMS Sutherland Returns To Plymouth

The Type 23 frigate has been on a seven-month deployment overseas and today she returns home.

A sailor greets his son for the first time in seven months (Picture: Royal Navy).

HMS Sutherland has returned to her home port of Devonport after a seven-month deployment.

The Type 23 frigate arrived back in Plymouth on Friday morning.

HMS Sutherland homecoming 100818 CREDIT MoD Royal Navy
It has been an emotional reunion for 700 family members who welcomed home their loved ones (Picture: Royal Navy).

HMS Sutherland has had a very busy year.

She set sail from Plymouth in January and paid visits to Australia and the Asia Pacific as a demonstration of the UK’s commitment to peace and security in the Asia Pacific region, as well as wider support to British industry.

The ship also took part in exercises with the Royal Australian and the Royal New Zealand Navies.

HMS Sutherland in Australia
In March, the Royal Navy frigate sailed into the iconic Sydney harbour (Picture: Royal Navy).

Whilst the ship was docked at Yokosuka Naval Base, for two weeks maintenance, it conducted exercises with the US Navy Seventh Fleet and the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.

HMS Sutherland also headed to Republic of Korea, Singapore and Malaysia before operating as part of a multination coalition in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Aden region, conducting counter-piracy and trafficking activity.

The ship also provided escort duties to HM Ships Bangor and Middleton.

Commanding Officer, Commander Andrew Canale, said:

“We’ve had an incredibly varied deployment and as the first ship to deploy to the Asia Pacific region for some years we have gained a lot of experience about operating in the area.

“As we head for home we are now very much looking forward to being reunited with our families and friends who have given us unstinting support during our deployment.”

HMS Sutherland homecoming 100818 CREDIT Royal Navy Mod
The Type 23 frigate made an emotional return to her home port (Picture: Royal Navy).

The last stop before Devonport was Gibraltar. This allowed some of the families to meet the ship's crew and spend the last five days on board as part of PACAS (Parents and Children At Sea).

The father of Lieutenant David Ferguson, an Intelligence Officer for HMS Sutherland, has spent the last couple of days on the ship.

Alistair Ferguson said it was an "amazing" experience:

"We have always been shown what to do and where to go and it has been a wonderful privilege". 

Petty Officer Alex Llewellyn has been reunited with his sons today:

"I've missed birthdays. I've missed so much stuff, so coming back and seeing all these faces here has been absolutely amazing."

HMS Sutherland has now handed over duties to her sister ship HMS Argyll.