The UK Royal Navy Type 23 Duke-class frigate, HMS Westminster (F237) has returned home to HMNB Portsmouth in time for the festive season after spending eight weeks with multinational partners in colder climates.
The warship departed Portsmouth on Oct. 15 to head to Reykjavík in Iceland in preparation for Exercise Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise in nearly 30 years.
Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 saw around 50,000 personnel from 31 Countries, including 61 ships, participating in exercises off the West Coast of Norway for a three-week period.
The Commanding Officer, Commander Will Paston said: “The last few months have been a really good opportunity to work with our NATO allies across the Baltic region. I am pleased to say that the deployment has been a resounding success and this was made easier by the support that we get from our friends and families at home, when we are away.”
After the intensive period of multi-national exercises, HMS Westminster visited Oslo, Riga, Stockholm and Gdynia; hosting high profile visitors such as the Swedish Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist.
The ship was present in Riga for the 100th anniversary of Latvian Independence, in which the Royal Navy played a key role, and was fully incorporated within the celebrations.
It wasn’t all work whilst deployed and the ship’s company continued the defence engagement on the sports field with multiple fixtures including rugby, football and indoor cricket.
The sporting teams gained some valuable experience during these fixtures having spent around 200 days away from Portsmouth in 2018, limiting the amount of practice they could complete before the port visits.
The ships company now gets to recover from a busy 2018, with the opportunity to spend time with their friends and family over Christmas who have been so supportive throughout the year.
Still to return to the Solent in time for 25 December is Westminster’s sister, HMS St Albans; she’s just about to leave the Estonian capital Tallinn after maritime security work in the Baltic.