Two British Warships Receive Rapturous Welcome Home
PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) _ Tears, cheers and champagne greeted two Royal Navy ships that returned to their home ports today from duty in the Persian Gulf.
In Portsmouth, a huge crowd gave an emotional welcome to the 300-strong crew of the HMS Gloucester, which had been away from home for 208 days.
In Devonport, Plymouth, the HMS London was greeted by music from a Royal Marine band, a salute from a squadron of RAF Jaguars flying past and the cheers of several hundred relatives.
The London, the Royal Navy flagship in the gulf during the war, was in the thick of the action in the northern gulf alongside the USS Princeton and USS Tripoli, which were struck by mines.
The Gloucester used its Sea Dart missile system to shoot down an Iraqi Silkworm missile that had been fired at the U.S. battleship Missouri, which had been shelling Iraqi positions in Kuwait City.
Among those on the quayside to welcome home the Gloucester was the family of 17-year-old Steve Bunbury, dubbed ″Hawkeye″ after he spotted the Iraqi missile. His parents drove from their home in Nottingham in central England to meet him.
″I feel like it’s my wedding day,″ said his mother, Jacquie Bunbury. ″We are so pleased to get him home.″
Gloucester’s commanding officer, Capt. Iain Henderson, said the crew returned ″a little older and a little wiser.″
″It was an experience that will remain with us for the rest of our lives,″ Henderson said.
Now it’s time for sailors such as Andy Tomlin of the London to get on with those lives. Tomlin, of Plymouth, was met at the dock by his wife Trina and their daughter Toni, born just after the ship sailed. The Tomlins were planning to celebrate a belated Christmas.
″My wife tells me the tree is up and the presents are all ready. I can’t wait to get home,″ he said.