Minister visits Royal Navy sailors spending Christmas on operations overseas

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In keeping with military tradition where junior members are served by their superiors, James Heappey then helped serve the annual Christmas dinner to the sailors. Photographer: Cpl Tim Hammond - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

6,300 members of the UK Armed Forces will be on duty around the world over the festive period, serving on 33 operations in 28 countries.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey has visited sailors onboard HMS Lancaster in Bahrain to thank them for their continued service over the Christmas period.

The Minister met sailors and officers on board HMS Lancaster to wish them a happy Christmas and thank them for sacrificing Christmas celebrations with their loved ones.

He joined the ship at UK Maritime Component Command in Bahrain, where UK Armed Forces personnel work to guarantee the freedom of maritime trade in the Gulf.

The Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappey meets sailors onboard HMS Lancaster while serving in the Gulf over Christmas. Photographer: Cpl Tim Hammond – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said:

“Thank you to the ship’s company of HMS Lancaster and the thousands of other Armed Forces personnel keeping watch over us this Christmas. Having spent Christmas Day serving in Afghanistan during my Army career, I know it’s not easy to be so far from home at this time of year.

“I hope everyone will join me in remembering their professionalism, sacrifice, and steadfast commitment to keeping our nation safe, every single day of the year. Happy Christmas to you all.”

Recognising the wider Armed Forces community, the Minister also took the opportunity to personally thank the friends and family of those onboard who provide support to their service from afar.

HMS Lancaster is deployed to the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region, maintaining security at sea and protecting international trade routes.

The ship is a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate and is home to 205 sailors and Royal Marines. It deployed to the Gulf in August 2022.

Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster, Commander Paul Irving said:

“It’s a real privilege to host Defence Minister James Heappey onboard HMS Lancaster, recognising the hard work of my ship’s company and of all service personnel on duty at home and around the world over the Christmas period.

“It means a lot to all of us to know that we have the full support of our families and government while we are deployed on operations.”

The UK Armed Forces are committed to protecting the UK and its interests around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Over 6,300 personnel from across the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force will be deployed around the world over Christmas, serving on 33 operations in 28 countries.

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