LYNX Flight embarked in HMS Montrose returned home yesterday (March 11) following a seven-month operational deployment that has seen her travel over 32,000 miles and visit 12 different ports in ten different countries.
Aircrew from 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) deployed in August last year, arrived back at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton to a warm welcome from family, friends, colleagues.
Two little girls, Lexi Roe, four, and Ellie Roe, six, were clearly oblivious to significance of the deployment simply excitedly awaiting their Daddy, Chief Petty Officer Paul Roe.
When asked how much they had missed their daddy, Ellie said: “I have missed my daddy 3088 much”.
Not to be outdone, Lexi said: “Well, I have missed him 4 billion and 1000”.
Apparently not as much as the family dog Murphy, who Ellie says face timed Daddy all the time while he was away.
As the two little girls raced to be with their Daddy it marked the end of seven months of hard work and tasking.
Montrose initially sailed into the Mediterranean with a number of other warships as part of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) COUGAR 13 deployment, to exercise the ability to operate and project power.
From there the ship moved into the Persian Gulf as the UK’s primary deterrence and presence patrol in the region, conducting maritime security and reassurance patrols alongside partner nations in the region; safeguarding the sea lanes of the Middle East.
A New Year brought new tasking as the Type 23 Frigate was directed to reposition into the Eastern Mediterranean to join Operation RECSYR – the Danish-led mission to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
Flight Commander Lieutenant Joe Sharples said: “Seven months is a long time for the aircrew, working long and intense days at a high state of readiness, but the work was very rewarding and no two days were the same.”
After arriving off the coast of Syria in mid January, MONTROSE, together with the multi-national task group of warships from Denmark and Norway, have carried out escort and close protection duties of two merchant vessels, as they transported their toxic cargo out of Syria and through the Mediterranean Sea for onward destruction.
The mission also involved close co-ordination and interaction with Russian and Chinese warships operating in the area, a new experience for many of the 200 men and women in the ship.
AET Carwyn Jones, part of the ship’s Lynx helicopter Flight from 815 Naval Air Squadron, and on his first deployment, said: "It’s been a challenging seven months and when we left Plymouth I definitely didn’t expect to end up patrolling the coastline of Syria.
"Overall it’s been a great experience for my first tour and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved."
Commander Parkin added: "I am incredibly proud of my ship’s company who have committed themselves to the changing circumstances of this deployment and the professionalism that this mission has demanded.
"From our work in the Gulf, to our time on RECSYR, the deployment has been a definitive success in every one of the many tasks that my team have undertaken."
During this successful deployment the Lynx air crew has travelled 15,000 miles through the air at speeds of up to 180 miles an hour having burnt 50,000 kgs of fuel.
It is now time to take some well-earned leave with their loved ones.