Put To Work: Forces Families Get Glimpse Of Sea Life

HMS Enterprise started her journey back to the UK by carrying the family members of the crew onboard.

The Captain's daughter took part in fire drills.

HMS Enterprise has started her journey home to the UK for the first time in over a year, but before returning she picked up some of the crew's family members so they can experience life at sea.

They are onboard the Plymouth-based survey ship after she handed over her duty as the flagship of NATO's standing mine counter-measure group two to the German Navy earlier this month - a role she took over last year.

Despite it only being a brief visit, the families were put straight to work as they boarded in Gibraltar.

HMS Enterprise in Gibraltar
HMS Enterprise docked in Gibraltar where she picked up the crews family members.

Evie Harper, the Captain's daughter, went onboard to try and get a better understanding of her father's role on HMS Enterprise. She said: "I came onboard to experience where my dad works.

"They've been putting on different demonstrations – just now we jumped into the sea and we saw how they fight fires."

But there is another reason behind the families visits.

With sailors on three watch manning rotations away from home up to 825 days in three years, keeping the families happy can be challenging.

HMS Enterprise families onboard
The crew have been demonstrating how they conduct their daily tasks and have given their loved ones the chance to join in on exercises.

Commander Phil Harper, Captain of HMS Enterprise, says keeping the families happy is vital while they are deployed:

"Families are vitally important in the Royal Navy because if you don't have the families onside, you will lose sailors.

"Because what we do is away from home, by definition, families don't really understand.

"They hear sailors talk about what they do on the ship – but it's almost in a foreign language, so explaining what we do is really hard.

"And what better way to show them, by getting them onboard.

"Plus it's great fun for everybody."

The ship itself has been deployed for a year with the ship's company working in rotations.

The survey vessel has been providing presence in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean to deter Russian aggression.

She has also been helping NATO research the power of autonomous underwater vehicles or drones used as force multipliers.

On route back to Devonport the ship stopped off in Porto, Portugal before making the final journey home.

AB Daniel Hardwick had the chance to bring his other half onboard to show her what his job entails.

AB Hardwick says it's been good to show her what he does.

"I've got my girlfriend onboard – very strange because I'm used to her being miles and miles apart and it's weird to think that she's right next to me.

"It's really good because I can now show her what I do – when we're on the phone she's always asking what does that mean."

The crews family sailed from Gibraltar, to Porto and will arrive back in Plymouth at the weekend.

Kate, AB Hardwick's girlfriend said: "There was a man overboard exercise where Dan drove the sea boat – which was really cool."

The ship is returning to Plymouth on Sunday after a year at sea.

She will spend six weeks in refit in Falmouth before returning to the fleet.