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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Hero's welcome for sub crew
John and Harry Livesey
John Livesey is reunited with his son Harry
The crew of a nuclear submarine has been given a hero's welcome as they arrived home from the Gulf.

HMS Splendid sailed up the Clyde on Thursday morning after completing her last operation before being decommissioned.

More than 200 friends and relatives cheered and waved Union flags as the submarine docked at Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

The 107 crew were deployed to the Gulf region in early January and fired Tomahawk Cruise missiles against ground targets in Iraq during the conflict.

Commander Paul Burke, commanding officer of the submarine, was met by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram and Rear Admiral Niall Kilgour, the Navy's commander of operations.

What they carried out helped bring an early end to the conflict
Adam Ingram

Mr Ingram paid tribute to the crew and said: "It has been a long mission for them but the reason I am here today is to thank them for all they did in Iraq.

"What they carried out helped bring an early end to the conflict. We really should recognise that achievement.

"I am sure they are all looking forward now to spending time with their families."

Commander Burke said he was delighted to be home after such a long trip.

Regarding the crew's work in the Gulf he said: "We feel that we were part of the fight against terrorism and Operation Telic but we realise that we were at the far end of the sphere compared to the troops in the front line."

Jolly Roger on conning tower
The Jolly Roger is flown on the vessel

John Livesey provided one of the defining images of the day when he playfully threw his 16-month-old son Harry in the air.

The 31-year-old from Manchester said: "It is fantastic to be home.

"You never know what they are going to look like when you come back."

Mr Livesey was also met by his wife Nikki, 25, and three-year-old son Jack.

He said the day was one of mixed emotions as it marked the submarine's final homecoming.

Vegas wedding

He said: "With three years' service I am the longest serving officer on Splendid.

"I was the officer watch when we surfaced for the last time. It was a poignant moment."

Jamie Smith married his wife Gaynor on 16 December in Las Vegas but he left for the Gulf on 10 January.

The 29-year-old from Scunthorpe joked: "It has been six months of married bliss.

"We haven't had one argument yet."

On his time in the Gulf he said: "It was very uncomfortable and warm but the lads always look after each other at sea.

HMS Splendid
It was the last operation for HMS Splendid

"I was in Kosovo on HMS Splendid and in San Diego when we were first given Tomahawks.

"It will be sad to see the old thing go."

The 83-metre Splendid has served on a range of national and coalition operations for the past three years.

It became the first British submarine to fire a Tomahawk missile in action during Nato's Kosovo conflict operations in 1999.

Once decommissioned, the vessel will be stored at the navy's Devonport base for monitoring before final storage arrangements are decided, navy chiefs said.


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