HMS Kent has arrived back home in Portsmouth – the last warship home from the Royal Navy’s premier deployment of 2021.
The frigate has been a constant guardian of the Carrier Strike Group 21, one of six vessels which formed a ring of steel around UK flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth during its historic seven-month global deployment.
3,700 personnel from nine ships, a submarine, five air squadrons and a company of Royal Marines are now back in Britain in time for Christmas having departed the UK in early May on the historic deployment.
The Carrier Strike Group sailed across three oceans and five seas, cumulatively covering around 500,000 nautical miles. The group has engaged with 44 countries, strengthening partnerships with allies including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Greece, Israel, India, Italy, Japan, Oman and the Republic of Korea.
The most significant peacetime deployment in a quarter of a century, Carrier Strike Group 21 has been more than just a military endeavour, bringing together elements of defence, diplomacy and prosperity and flying the flag for Global Britain.
The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
I wish to express my gratitude to the men and women of the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group upon the completion of your historic first deployment.
Although you have travelled great distances, we at home have followed your journey at every stage.
The past seven months have been a muscular and majestic demonstration of British power and commitment at sea, in the skies and over the land. With our United States and Netherlands allies by your side, you have persuasively demonstrated our shared resolve to protect the rules and freedoms upon which peace and prosperity depend. Through your programme of exercises and engagements you have immeasurably strengthened UK partnerships within NATO and far beyond.
To have done all this against the challenges of Covid is remarkable. This has not always been easy for you or your families, but you have approached the task with the skill and professionalism which are the hallmark of the British armed forces.
The foundations you have laid on this deployment will serve those who follow in your wake for years to come. My admiration and gratitude for your dedication is shared across the government. Each of you has done your duty and done it well. The nation cannot ask for more.
I wish you a happy and restful Christmas with your families. Bravo Zulu.