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HMS Argyll returns home with a bang from Gulf operations

HMS Argyll sails into Plymouth after six months deployed on operations in the Gulf
24 September 2020
To the sound of her ceremonial cannon firing an 11-gun salute as she passed beneath Plymouth’s Royal Citadel, HMS Argyll came home to Devonport after her latest deployment to the Gulf.

After nearly six months away in the intense searing heat of the Middle East it was a welcome break to be greeted by the Autumn showers that might have dampened the occasion. But the sailors were not down-hearted, as smiles broke out when they saw families and friends on Plymouth Hoe and at Devil’s Point - traditional vantages points for homecomings. 

Their mission is now complete with nearly six million tonnes of shipping – 68 merchant vessels carrying goods, oil and natural gas – safely monitored through key sea lanes in the Middle East since the Plymouth-based ship arrived in the region in April.

HMS Argyll – Britain’s longest-serving frigate with 29 years in the Fleet – has been working side-by-side with her sister ship HMS Montrose, based long-term in Bahrain, and the UK’s allies and partners in the region to reassure merchant shipping in potentially dangerous waters.

Much of her work during 164 days East of Suez has been performed for the International Maritime Security Construct, the relatively-new partnership of nations committed to ensuring the safe passage of ships into and out of the Gulf, currently commanded by the Royal Navy’s Commodore Rob Bellfield.

“It’s been a challenging deployment, especially leaving my baby boy at three months old,” said Leading Engineering Technician Ben Harrington from Plymouth.

“COVID has meant that we were not able to get ashore much – but we have become a really close team and made the most of it.

“The Jetty Highland Games and darts night were a blast and raised over £10,000 for charity between them.

“We’ve delivered everything that has been asked of us in pretty difficult circumstances and we’re still smiling, now I can’t wait to get back to my little boy.”

His Commanding Officer Commander Andrew Ainsley said the pandemic had placed demands on the entire Argyll family – ship’s company and loved ones at home – and all had borne them with fortitude.

“With our families at home living through COVID, my people have maintained a determined focus on the task in hand and I am exceptionally proud of each and every one of them,” he added.

“Be it reassuring UK shipping in and around the Strait of Hormuz, co-operating with our international partners, or integrating with the other Royal Navy ships delivering persistent presence in the region, they have risen to each and every challenge.”

We’ve delivered everything that has been asked of us in pretty difficult circumstances and we’re still smiling, now I can’t wait to get back to my little boy.

Leading Engineering Technician Ben Harrington

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