UK: HMS Albion, HMS Sutherland Return from Cougar Deployment

THERE’S nothing like a ship’s homecoming.

Tears. Smiles. Hugs. Kisses. Laughs. Glasses of champers. Banners. Union Jacks. Royal Marines Band. Huge White Ensigns. A flypast. Joy. Raw emotion.

Two homecomings within minutes of each other, well that’s just magical.

Britain’s flagship HMS Albion completed her four-month Cougar deployment by returning to Plymouth yesterday accompanied by her guardian for most of that time away, frigate HMS Sutherland.

Upwards of 1,000 loved ones lines the jetties at Devonport Naval Base in anticipation of 500 sailors and Royal Marines returning.

A Lynx flypast and jets of water from tugs showing their appreciation greeted the Fighting Clan. For Albion, there were scores of banners and flags, plus suitably martial music from the Band of HM Royal Marines.

Delighted at the turn-out for his flagship Capt James Morley said:

“This is a fantastic event for all my ship’s company.”

“They have done a fantastic job. It is now chance for our people to spend time with their families. They missed out on Easter leave by leaving Devonport early as world events unfolded. Family support has been crucial to our success.’’

PO Scott Foskett was met by his wife Erica, children George, two, and Harry two months. He flew home from HMS Albion while on deployment to be at Harry’s birth.

He said there had been uncertainty over world events which had meant they were not sure when or what they would be doing and when they would be back:

“But despite this we were more than ready and carried out our task. We proved a cohesive team with the Royal Marines on board and took part in important exercise and operations, which was exactly what we joined for.”

LET(WE) Paul French joined HMS Albion from HMS Chatham to maintain her weapons systems; he was given just two days’ notice of the deployment – a pace that was maintained throughout the four months away. He said:

“It was a very busy deployment. This was exactly why we joined, to do the job for real under operational conditions.”

“The highlight was helping in the operation commanding and controlling the Apache flights from HMS Ocean to Libya.”

Already home from Cougar is amphibious support ship RFA Cardigan Bay which arrived in Marchwood on Southampton Water on Friday and offloaded the men and equipment of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines.

The deployment was the first test of the new Response Force Task Group (RFTG) – the UK’s naval quick-reaction force – and successfully demonstrated the Royal Navy’s ability to respond at short notice to unforeseen events that may occur in an uncertain and ever-changing world.


Source: royalnavy, August 10, 2011;