A Royal Navy destroyer has returned to its home base after escorting shipping through the Strait of Hormuz amid tensions with Iran.
The 250-strong ship’s company of HMS Duncan was welcomed back to Portsmouth Naval Base by more than 500 friends and family following its seven-month deployment.
The Type 45 destroyer set sail in March to take part in a multi-national carrier strike group off Syria to provide air defence during operations against Isis forces.
But it was later diverted to provide security for British shipping traversing the Hormuz.
The area has experienced rising tensions after the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker was seized by the Iranians in July.
The vessel, which was taken two weeks after an Iranian tanker was held off Gibraltar, was finally allowed to leave Iranian waters on Friday.
During its deployment, HMS Duncan passed through the narrow waters 29 times, protecting 1.28 million tonnes of British merchant vessels including tankers, liquid natural gas, container and cargo ships.
Commander Tom Trent, Duncan’s commanding officer, said: “When we arrived in the Gulf it was extremely hot, there was real uncertainty and a genuine threat. In protecting shipping, we did what the Royal Navy has done for hundreds of years.
“It was rewarding because we could measure what we achieved: 29 transits of the Strait, 26 ships accompanied and not one ship was taken on our watch.”
Praising his crew, Cdr Trent added: “I cannot put my pride I feel about them into words. They have shown resilience, determination, enthusiasm and a good smile at the end.
“The ship is just a big lump of steel with some fancy equipment inside – HMS Duncan is the ship’s company and the family behind them.
“This is a special ship with special people and it has been my pride to have led them through this adventure across 40,000 miles of seas and oceans and a variety of challenges and opportunities.”
Duncan’s sister ship HMS Defender, plus frigates HMS Montrose and Kent, remain in the Gulf accompanying British-flagged vessels through Hormuz.