HMS Westminster comes home to Portsmouth

Despite the wet and windy weather HMS Westminster has been welcomed back to Portsmouth Naval Base after a busy five-month deployment.

The Type 23 Duke-Class anti-submarine ship is returning from the Joint Expeditionary Force’s exercise Baltic Protector in the Baltic region.

Comprising the combined efforts of seven nations including Poland, Turkey, Spain, Denmark and Germany, HMS Westminster was part of Task Force Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) led by the US Navy under Rear Admiral Edward Cashman.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:“NATO is the bedrock of UK security and the outstanding work of HMS Westminster’s crew underlines the leading role our armed forces continue to play in the Alliance.

“All around the world the Royal Navy works with friends and allies to uphold the rules based international order.

“As part of the Joint Expeditionary Force’s Baltic Protector deployment, HMS Westminster partnered with our European partners to demonstrate our collective commitment to freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea region and underlines the Government’s determination to uphold the international norms of freedom of navigation.”

We are now confident operating with our NATO colleagues, and have come to learn that sailors from any nation have a huge amount in common

Lieutenant Commander Kate Muir, Executive Officer

HMS Westminster’s Captain, Commander Will Paston said: “The deployment has achieved its key objectives.

"It has been really rewarding working and operating within a NATO Task Group to collectively improve our understanding while demonstrating our commitment to the wider security in the Baltic region.”

Lieutenant Commander Si Reeves, Westminster’s Operations Officer, said: “It has been invaluable training to bring the task force together, as well as demonstrating our skills and integration within the Baltic.

"I’ve been really impressed with how all the ships have worked together to display the value of a NATO Task Group.”

Throughout the deployment, sailors worked with the other nations in the task group, helping to strengthen ties and form SNMG1 into a cohesive unit. These included personnel exchanges with Polish, German and US vessels.

HMS Westminster also took part in the tri-service Exercise Trident Juncture as well as anti-submarine exercise Dynamic Mongoose.

At the close of the deployment, the frigate was called upon to escort Chinese destroyer Xian as she sailed the English Channel before making a planned visit to the affiliated City of Westminster to exercise her ‘Freedom of the City.’

Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kate Muir said: “I’ve been hugely impressed by the ship’s company. The NATO task group operates at a high tempo, both at sea and in port, and the team has succeeded on all fronts.

"We are now confident operating with our NATO colleagues, and have come to learn that sailors from any nation have a huge amount in common.

“Thankfully the team found time to have some fun as well: paddle boarding, climbing, mountain biking, rugby and the endurance challenge that is Kiel Week all featured.

"It is now time for the ship’s company to have a well-earned rest.”