Families welcome back Royal Navy crew at Faslane after 8 months at sea

Family and friends have welcomed home a Royal Navy crew after eight months at sea.

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Around 150 people gathered on the quayside at Faslane on the Clyde to greet the return of minehunter HMS Ramsey and First Mine Counter Measures (MCM1) Crew 2, who have completed a deployment in the Gulf.

It was an extra special day for one toddler in the crowd because her father returned home as her family celebrated her first birthday.

Chief Weapons Officer Chris Brown was part of the 40-strong Royal Navy crew on board the ship. His wife Susie and daughter Callie, who is one today, were among the well-wishers cheering on the jetty despite heavy rain and strong winds.

Mr Brown, 36, from Edinburgh, is now preparing to change nappies rather than naval weapons systems.

He said: "It's my daughter's first birthday and a great day to get back, despite the weather.

"My family has all turned up, we'll go for a nice meal and when we're back home we'll get to opening her presents, and I'll get settled back into married life.

"It's been difficult being away, but good to be back. My wife's had the hard time with the late nights and the crying.

"I'm not sure about the changing nappies and that stuff but I'll give it a shot."

Mrs Brown flew out with baby Callie to Dubai in April for a week when the crew had leave, and she also speaks to her husband regularly when he is on deployment.

She said: "We've done FaceTime a lot so Callie knows what Daddy looks like.

"When he comes home, so he's not too strange to her, it'll take a bit getting used to but she'll be fine.

"It's harder (dealing with deployments) with her than it was without her, but she's proved such a distraction so the eight months have gone really quickly.

"There's an awful lot to do, teething and everything. But it's been quicker than I thought it'd be."

HMS Ramsey is one of four Royal Navy minehunter vessels in the Gulf which conduct routine surveys, seabed and mine clearance operations.

The ship, which is based at Faslane, has been on duty for more than three years and the current crew have spent the last eight months on board.

Lieutenant Commander Ashley Spence said he was pleased with the professionalism of his crew.

He said: "The Royal Navy has quite a large role out there making sure the oil and gas sea-lanes remain open to make sure our lights at home stay on.

"This is the first time we've seen rain in eight months but it can't dampen our spirits, we're so pleased to be home. There have been hugs, tears and kisses out on the jetty, it really does mean a lot."

Another new father pleased to be back on dry land for an extended period was Petty Officer Bob Malcolm, from Dundee, who flew home four months ago for the birth of his son Bradley before returning to the ship.

He was given advanced leave last week to spend time with his son and is happy his fellow crew have now returned.

He rejoined the crew today as it sailed into Faslane.

"Obviously it's always raining in Faslane and Bradley had a cold this last week, so I made the call not to bring him through," the 36-year-old said.

"This is my fifth deployment in seven years so I'm plenty used to it. Fortunately that's my last one for two-and-a-half years, I'm now going to spend some more time with my family.

"Bradley was born premature so he was tiny when I first saw him. This last month I've just been itching to get home. I got photos sent every week and seen him get bigger and bigger so it's just good to get back and be with him."

Though being a new parent raises new challenges, late nights will not be a problem for Mr Malcolm.

"I've been sharing a mess with six other guys, so with all the snoring that goes with that I've not woken up with him once."

Families

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