This week, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group has returned home after almost seven months at sea. In total 3,700 Royal Navy personnel are part of the Carrier Strike Group and the group have covered 26,000 nautical miles, visiting several countries including India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Defender, HMS Diamond and HMS Kent returned to Portsmouth, while HMS Richmond returned to her Plymouth base. Thousands of families turned out to greet their loved ones, in what is the largest homecoming event for a generation. The RNRMC have provided funds to support the occasion, recognising the extreme sacrifice that families make and the difficulties that deployment can cause.
The RNRMC have also supported personnel throughout their deployment, providing numerous grants to all ships in the Carrier Strike group. Improvements such as a Junior Rates dining hall refurbishment on HMS Defender, or new audiovisual equipment for mess areas on HMS Diamond and HMS Kent, helped make life at sea a little more comfortable.
With COVID-19 restrictions putting a stop to several much-anticipated port visits, the RNRMC stepped in on several occasions to ensure that those on deployment were able to enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation, despite the circumstances. In Istanbul, special entertainment and food was provided within the confines of the ship and the port for sailors on board HMS Defender, thanks in part to RNRMC funding. In September HMS Queen Elizabeth was docked in the port of Yokosuka for a series of exercises and engagements as part of the UK’s commitment to strengthening ties with Japan. However, due to COVID concerns the crew were restricted to the ship during their stay and were unable to experience Japanese culture first hand. Hopes of hosting ‘a taste of Japan’ on board were also dashed as local traders and caterers were not allowed to embark either. In response to this, the RNRMC were able to act quickly and supply funds to allow ‘goodie bags’ to be assembled for all sailors aboard the ship.
With the Carrier Strike Group now safely home, many Royal Navy families can look forward to spending some overdue quality time together and enjoying the festive period reunited. However, the RNRMC recognise that many personnel will still be deployed and our thoughts are with all Royal Navy families who will spend Christmas apart.