HMS Grimsby home for Christmas after NATO deployment

Royal Navy minehunter HMS Grimsby returned to HM Naval Base Clyde today with an emotional welcome home from families and loved ones.

The Clyde-based ship and the 40-strong Crew 6 have spent the past four months on Mediterranean deployment, exercising with international navies and helping to keep vital sea lanes safe.

With just a week to go until Christmas day, the sailors were reunited with their families at the Faslane dockside and left for some hard-earned festive leave.

The vessel departed HM Naval Base Clyde on August 27 and during her deployment covered almost 8,000 nautical miles and visited 11 foreign ports as part of "NATO Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 2".

Commanding Officer of HMS Grimsby, Lieutenant Commander Will King, said: "Not only has HMS Grimsby spent days and nights at sea, literally side by side with our Allies hunting for mines, but my crew and I have forged working partnerships with sailors from across Europe.

"I am confident that we have built a level of interoperability that means we could respond together to any mine threat in Allied waters."

Not only has HMS Grimsby spent days and nights at sea, literally side by side with our Allies hunting for mines, but my crew and I have forged working partnerships with sailors from across Europe.

Lieutenant Commander Will King

That high-level of interoperability was forged during exercises like Exercise Noble Justification, where dozens of ships, submarines and aircraft, along with hundreds of troops, acted out a complex military and political scenario. The exercise proved NATO’s readiness for action and saw HMS Grimsby’s crew fighting off simulated attacks from the air and sea.

The ship also called into Casablanca and Algiers in Africa – a first for most of the Crew – where they conducted exercises with Moroccan and Algerian Frigates. The deployment finished with another exercise run by the Turkish navy in Izmir Bay, in the same waters as sailed by the ancient Greeks and Trojans.

The high pace of operations was a particular challenge for the ship’s Marine Engineering department who worked tirelessly to maintain HMS Grimsby, conducting two generator changes.

Warrant Officer Andy Stephenson, the ship’s Marine Engineering Officer, found the deployment particularly poignant as it was his last with the Royal Navy after 22 year’s service.

"The deployment was an interesting change from the Gulf and a great way to end my sea time with the Royal Navy," he said.

At the other end of the spectrum was Able Seaman (Mine Warfare) Josh Coupe who was on his inaugural deployment.

"I only joined the Royal Navy less than a year ago, and I have already visited nine countries!

"It has been great to see all the other NATO ships and ports. Now I’m looking forwards to operations in the Gulf during the summer."

After a well-deserved Christmas break to catch up with family life, Crew 6 will conduct a full maintenance package on the ship, refreshing and repairing all parts of the vessel’s machinery and sensors. The crew will then begin training in preparation for deployment to the Gulf in summer 2015.