Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Friday, 28 May 2010 12:57 UK

Navy minehunter HMS Atherstone returns to Portsmouth

HMS Atherstone returning to Portsmouth on 28 May 2010
The returning sailors were welcomed home by family and friends

A Royal Navy minehunter which has been deployed for two years in the Middle East with five crew changes returned to its home port of Portsmouth earlier.

HMS Atherstone served in the Arabian Gulf helping to maintain security and carrying out mine warfare training.

Family and local residents lined the dockside near Portsmouth Naval Base to welcome the sailors home.

In order for the warship to extend its time at sea, 200 sailors had served on board in five different deployments.

The final and returning crew have served on board twice.

Sustain and recover

Commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Gordon Ruddock said: "All the team are immensely pleased to be returning to Portsmouth on Atherstone.

"This ship's company has been the longest serving on the ship while she has been in the Arabian Gulf and they are proud to have achieved so much and to have overcome so many challenges.

"The deployment to the Gulf and the return to the UK is testament to the resilience of even the smallest ships of the Royal Navy and our continued ability to deploy, sustain and recover units all over the world.

"The mission in the Middle East is enhancing the service's warm water mine warfare capability.

"It is also making an important contribution to regional stability, building capacity in Gulf Co-operation Council navies and affirming the UK's commitment to the region."

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