UK: HMS Westminster to Return Home Today

HMS Westminster to Return Home Today

Portsmouth-based warship HMS Westminster returns home today (August 13) from a deployment to the Middle East which included a £14m drugs bust. The Type 23 frigate seized more than 70 bales containing pure heroin – which would have funded terrorist activity – from a dhow in the Indian Ocean.

During seven months away – clocking up more than 44,000 miles – the ship disrupted three groups of suspected pirates who were targeting merchant shipping, and conducted security patrols in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.

Westminster also paid goodwill visits across the region from Aqaba in Jordan to Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania, and took part in numerous exercises with coalition and allied forces.

Her Commanding Officer, Captain Nick Hine, said:

“I am tremendously proud of all that we have achieved.

“My fantastic ship’s company has risen to every challenge that has been laid before them and we have had a tangible effect in making the UK’s interests more secure as a result.”

Weather permitting the ship’s Merlin helicopter, which performed vital roles during the drugs bust and anti-piracy raids, will perform a flypast as the ship enters Portsmouth Harbour at approximately 9.45am.

In keeping with tradition the ship’s company will line the upper decks for the homecoming. A gap will be left as a mark of respect for the family of missing crew member Leading Seaman Timothy MacColl.

Captain Hine said:

“Clearly we are all desperately disappointed that LS MacColl remains missing and our thoughts and prayers remain with his family at this particularly difficult time.”

LS MacColl went missing while on shore leave in Dubai in May. The Royal Navy remains concerned for his safety and continues to provide support for his family.

The matter is being treated as a missing person case. The Dubai Police have primacy for the investigation into LS MacColl’s disappearance and search.

The MOD and RN continue to liaise with and provide assistance to the Dubai authorities. The FCO also remains in contact with the Emirati police about their ongoing investigation.

Naval Today Staff, August 13, 2012; Image: Royal Navy