HMS Daring Returns To Portsmouth

28 February 2014, 19:02

An emotional reunion has been held in Portsmouth for 220 sailors with their families after they returned to the UK following one of the Royal Navy's longest deployments.

HMS Daring sailed into the Naval Base, having completed the nine-month mission to the Far East which saw the warship being diverted to assist in the aid mission to the Philippines following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

During nine days, the crew of the Type 45 destroyer, which was the first on the scene, treated 300 patients and delivered 21 tonnes of stores and 7,656 litres of fresh drinking water ashore as well as surveyed 42,200 square miles covering more than 70 islands.

On arrival at Portsmouth, the Philippines Consul General to the UK, Senen Mangalile presented a garland of flowers as an act of appreciation to Daring's commanding officer Commander Angus Essenhigh.

Mr Mangalile said:

"We are here precisely to express the gratitude of the Philippines for the great work done by HMS Daring in responding to the calamity that struck us last year.

"We look at the arrival of HMS Daring as a representation of the quick resolve of Britain in standing by the Philippines in this hour of need.

"She was the first to be there and actually gave comfort and aid to those affected especially those who were not reachable at that time from land.''

Cdr Essenhigh, who was reunited with his wife Lesley and children Elspeth, six, and Artemis, four, said:

"We have worked closely with many navies in support of shared global challenges such as counter-piracy, preventing conflict and protecting citizens overseas but perhaps our most significant contribution was in the delivery of relief to the people of the Philippines following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

"We are now delighted to be reunited with out loved ones and look forward to a well-earned rest.''

During the deployment, which is the longest served by a RN ship since 2007, Daring travelled 44,000 miles visiting the Caribbean, Australia, the Philippines before spending Christmas in Singapore.

Chief Petty Officer Roy Fenwick, from Haxey, South Yorkshire, was met by his family including his nephew, Oscar Fenner, one, from Nottingham.

He said: "It's good to be back after nine months, it's been a long deployment.''

Leading Physical Trainer Simon Radford, was reunited with daughter Lilly-Skye, three, and said:

"It's fantastic to be back, absolutely brilliant and it's nice to know she recognises me still.''

Able seaman Sean Dobson, 25, from Dagenham, Essex, was given a big hug by daughter Mia, four, and he said:

"It's feels brilliant, I'm just speechless. It has been a long nine months and I'm happy to be back home to spend some time with loved ones.''

Weapon engineer officer Lieutenant Commander Marcel Rosenberg had sent an emotional message home for Valentine's Day when he spoke of how difficult it had been to be separated from his son Isaac who was born seven months ago and who he had left a month later to join the ship.

He said today when he was reunited with wife Sarah and his son:

"It's absolutely wonderful although my son needs to get used to me, he's not quite ready for a new face in his life - I have a lot of nappies to catch up on.''

In his Valentine's message, Lt Cdr Rosenberg said:

"Our first child was born just before I deployed to join HMS Daring, so it's been an emotional time for my wife and me. I have watched our little boy grow-up via email, but I video recorded myself reading nursery rhymes to him before I left and his first word has been 'dadda' - mostly due to my wonderful wife's persistence.

"This has been the hardest separation of my 26 years in the Royal Navy, but I couldn't have wished for a better ship's company to share it with. As every sailor and their families comes to know, absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder.''