Christmas on a deployed ship is a time when thoughts naturally turn to family and those we love at home.

Captain Rob Anders RFA

In the Gulf, RFA Cardigan Bay, which supports the day-to-day operations of four Royal Navy minehunters, will be at sea with her 115 sailors, soldiers and Royal Marines.

"Christmas on a deployed ship is a time when thoughts naturally turn to family and those we love at home,” said Captain Rob Anders RFA, Cardigan Bay’s Commanding Officer.

"For us it is another day on operations that the majority of the ship’s company will treat much the same as any other."

Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Dragon enters the festive season fresh from four major drugs busts in the Indian Ocean inside a month.

"To be away from family and friends is always a wrench whatever the time of the year, but especially so at Christmas,” said her Commanding Officer Commander Michael Carter Quinn.

“We have a family of our own aboard HMS Dragon which goes some way to making up for the absence of loved ones. We’ll celebrate in the Royal Navy’s unique way, make the most of the day, then get back out there, hunting down the drugs traffickers. They don’t stop and neither do we.”

December 25 is typically a relaxed affair – and although watch routines are maintained as normal – with the age-old tradition of officers serving ratings their dinner maintained (and in some cases the most junior or youngest member of the ship’s company is permitted to be captain for the day).

"The catering department though will be working harder to maintain morale and ensure that Christmas dinner, which the whole ship’s company take together in the dining hall, will be as close to a family occasion as we can make it. The one difference is that the lunch will be a combined affair and the Officers will be doing the washing up!!” Captain Anders added.

Thanking sailors and Royal Marines for their efforts – and their families for unyielding support – First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones said 2018 had been “an incredible year of conspicuous success. The Service has made its presence felt in every part of the globe in a way which we have not done for many years.".