HMS Bulwark comes home to Plymouth for Christmas
MORE than 500 sailors and Royal Marines came home for Christmas yesterday.
The Plymouth-based amphibious warship HMS Bulwark sailed up the Tamar after two months at sea in the largest Naval deployment of the year.
"We are delighted to be home for Christmas with our families and friends," Bulwark's commanding officer Captain Andrew Burns, said.
"I should think the crew are ready for a rest after a busy couple of months.
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"Life at sea is always pretty intensive."
Capt Burns said the deployment was "entirely unconnected" with the crisis in Syria, where rebels are fighting to overthrow the Assad regime.
"We obviously knew what was going on in Syria, but this deployment has been planned for some time and had no connection with any world events," he said.
Asked about the impact of the Government's cuts to the Armed Forces, he said: "We were able to do everything we were asked to do. The cuts have not had an impact on this deployment and we have been able to achieve all of our objectives."
Bulwark was the command and control ship leading the UK's Response Force Task Group on the Cougar 12 deployment in the Mediterranean.
The fleet of six British ships operated alongside three French ships and a submarine, and Albanian forces.
Among the fleet taking part were the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious, and Devonport-based warships HMS Montrose and HMS Northumberland, Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay and the heavy-lift ferry, Hartland Point.
Bulwark carried 550 Sailors, Royal Marines and staff officers, 62 Land Rovers and armoured vehicles and eight amphibious landing craft.
She took part in Exercise Corsican Lion in October and Exercise Albanian Lion in November.
"We have come a long way in the two months since we sailed from Devonport, and we have honed the skills that make HMS Bulwark a capable and formidable amphibious platform and fleet flagship," Capt Burns said.
Bulwark will spend the next few months preparing for her next exercise, Cougar 13, next summer.
"Through that period we will be at very high readiness to deploy if the Government requires us to," Capt Burns said.