Page last updated at 19:20 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ship home after tackling pirates

HMS Northumberland. Pic: Royal Navy
HMS Northumberland helped deliver food aid

A Devon-based frigate has returned to port after a six-month deployment.

HMS Northumberland was carrying out humanitarian duties and was on counter-piracy mission Operation Atalanta as part of a European Union naval force.

While at sea, the 4,800-tonne, Type 23 frigate escorted ships along a 1,500-mile (2,400km) length of Somalia's coastline and helped tackle pirates.

Commanding Officer Martin Simpson said the crew had "many successes". The 185-strong crew now has four weeks' leave.

Proud moments

The ship escorted ships along the Somali coastline to deliver food to the ports of Mogadishu, Boosaaso and Berbera.

When not on escort duties, the ship operated in the Gulf of Aden to ensure safe passage of merchant vessels and board suspect vessels.

Commander Martin Simpson said: "We had many successes in the Gulf of Aden on counter narcotics duties and general policing the sea to counter destabilising activities, basically anything illegal on the water."

"Northumberland managed to ensure the delivery of 50,000 tonnes of food which was enough to feed 2.5 million people for one month. Delivering food aid was my proudest moment.

He said he was proud of the ship's company for the way "they rose to the challenge, they responded magnificently".

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