Families cheered home their loves ones as the Royal Navy patrol ship returned to base
Patrol ship Mersey sailed into Portsmouth, Hampshire, after covering 48,000 miles and visiting 32 ports in 19 countries on three continents.
As the band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Portsmouth struck up, friends and families waved flags on the jetty side, and loved ones were greeted with hugs after running down the gangplank.
Among those who returned was Steward Amy Binns, who was the only mother serving in Mersey. She said: "It feels really good to be home.
- Putin ally SLAMS UK after Russian warship escorted through Channel
- UK attack submarines are OUT OF ACTION – and the PM doesn’t even know
"This is my first homecoming and we don't get to Skype very often so to be able to see my son is just amazing. It's brilliant for me."
Able Seaman Bradley Alderton, 21, from Littlehampton, West Sussex, said: "I'm really happy to see my family again and to have been able to show them around my first ship.
"Being deployed to the Med has been my first time abroad with the Royal Navy and I can't wait to tell my family about all my experiences."
Lieutenant Commander George Storton is greeted by his family
It feels really good to be home
Steward Amy Binns
The River-class ship left Portsmouth in January last year, and headed to the Caribbean before travelling east to the Mediterranean and on to the Aegean.
Its role in the North Atlantic was to provide security to the UK's overseas territories in the Caribbean, and during stop-offs she welcomed thousands on board, including presidents, ambassadors and schoolchildren.
Mersey found herself at the centre of a major international drugs bust.
Among those who returned was Steward Amy Binns
While on counter-drugs patrols with the US Coastguard in April, Mersey helped seize £12 million of cocaine from a Honduras-bound vessel off the Nicaraguan coast.
The Navy crew – who worked two months on, one month off – took charge of the three suspects, took them back to the ship before returning to collect 16 bales of cocaine.
Mersey headed to the Aegean Sea, via a stopover in Gibraltar, during the second half of its deployment to support a Nato-led operation to combat the migration crisis.
Able Seaman Bradley Alderton was happy to see his family Defence Secretary visits UK nuclear submarine Fri, January 22, 2016
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visits HMS Vigilant, one of the UK's four nuclear warhead-carrying submarines at Royal Navy’s Faslane nuclear base on the Clyde.
Getty 1 of 17
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visits HMS Vigilant at HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane in Scotland
Lieutenant Commander George Storton, commanding officer of Mersey, had a surprise as the band played happy birthday to his son Toby who turned five on Thursday.
Lt/C Storton said: "Mersey has delivered an epic 13-month deployment spanning from the Caribbean to Turkey driven by the spirit, commitment and courage of the ship's company.
"With a crew of less than 50 on board, any one time everybody is involved in every task, from hosting presidents to working with Nato allies and developing lifesaving procedures in the Mediterranean."
- Royal Navy’s £3.1bn flagship super-carrier to miss own launch
- Dame Joan Collins to be godmother to Paris ship that defies terrorists
- Man dies in explosion on Emerald Princess cruise ship