September 4, 2020 – Two Royal Navy minehunters are returning home to the UK after completing three years of operations in the Gulf.
HMS Blyth and HMS Ledbury are almost at the end of their 6,000-mile journey home after more than 1,000 days away from Britain’s shores.
The trusty pair parted ways as they approached the UK, with Sandown-class Blyth on her final stretch into her home at Faslane and Hunt-class Ledbury sailing for Portsmouth.
The duo have been forward deployed to the Gulf since 2017 with their mine hunting crews rotating every few months.
It is Second Mine Counter Measure Squadron (MCM2) Crew 2 who are guiding Ledbury home, having put the seal on a demanding stretch of operations, which saw the ship spend 116 days at sea, with their anti-mine marine drone Seafox carrying out 57 missions and 88 dives carried out by the ship’s clearance diving teams.
The crew, who arrived on board in January, also took part in the multi-national exercise Khunjar Hadd, Arabic for ‘Sharp Dagger’.
Ledbury was joined by RFA Cardigan Bay, HMS Shoreham and HMS Brocklesby for the ordnance disposal exercise with US, French and Omani navies.
Lieutenant Commander Matt Ellicott, commanding officer of Ledbury, said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail the oldest sea-going ship in the Royal Navy from Bahrain to the UK after three years deployed conducting vital operations in the Middle East.
“A proud crew have completed a highly successful eight-month deployment in the Middle East against a backdrop of high regional tensions. Add to this the challenge of maintain operations during a global pandemic.
“This is a hugely commendable effort and testament to our people.”