A ROYAL Navy officer was almost brought to tears when he received a surprise birthday message from his sweetheart when his boat came into port in Glasgow.

With help from The Evening Times, Lieutenant Lloyd Wilkinson was handed a 30th birthday card from his girlfriend, Sam Hopkins, who was unable to get one to him in time.

Lieutenant Wilkinson, a logistics officer on the HMS Defender, was in total shock when our reporter handed him the card in the warship’s hanger and said the surprise was “perfect”.

“Thank you, Sammy. Love you”, he added.

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The HMS Defender was returning to Glasgow, where it was built and launched, for the first time since 2013.

The ship will be at the King George V Docks for a four-day visit to welcome nearly 4000 members of the public on board.

Sam contacted the Evening Times to see if there was anyway we could help as she felt “so awful” that Lloyd would wake up on his birthday, on April 3, without a single card or present.

“He always remembers every occasion, he will send me flowers and a card and he’s so, so, good at it every single time.

“I just felt awful, which is why I’m so, so grateful for you helping with this, I didn’t think I would be able to make it happen,” she said.

Sam recently moved from Bristol to London and said it had completely slipped her mind to send a card before it was too late.

“You can send post via bluey but it’s so slow it would never have arrived there in time. It’s one of the most important birthdays.

“It’s been on my mind the whole time, I felt awful.

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“It’s my birthday a few days before his and he’s already sent me a card,” she added.

Sam, who also works for the MOD, said the couple do not get to see each other much and often just communicate via instant messaging.

The HMS Defender was recently escorting a group of Russian naval ships along the UK coastline, which meant there was no communications to the ship during that time.

“I am so beyond excited, I wish I was there to see it to be honest,” Sam said. “But I’m so happy, I’m so grateful.”

HMS Defender, a Type 45 Destroyer, arrived in Govan on Friday in a return to the city where she was built in 2013.

The ship is berthed at King George V Dock, around a mile away from where it was built and launched, and will be open to visitors throughout the weekend.

HMS Defender's Commanding Officer, Richard Hewitt, described the return as "a very special occasion".

He said:"It was fantastic to arrive and see the HMS Taymar, who had a naming ceremony yesterday, seeing HMS Trent being built and looking not too far behind Taymar, and also the Type 26 which is being built on the Clyde as well.

"So a long future for shipbuilding on the River Clyde exists."

Prior to its arrival in Glasgow, HMS Defender had been escorting a Russian naval task group along the UK coastline - keeping a watchful eye on frigate Admiral Gorshkov and three auxiliary ships.

Commander Hewitt highlighted the Royal Navy's lasting commitment to defending UK waters.

"Defender is one of the six Type 45 destroyers of the Royal Navy," he said.

"She'll be particularly used in the next few years in conjuction with the new aircraft carriers (HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales), escorting them on their duties around the world."

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"It's beholden on the Royal Navy to ensure the integrity of the seas around the UK and that is our enduring commitment to the UK."

He added: "Glasgow, in being our affiliated city, is especially important to Defender and to the Royal Navy as a whole, as part of Scotland's commitment to the Royal Navy.

There's a force of around 10,000 people from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the British Army located and working in Scotland."