HMS Somerset yesterday (Monday) handed over her ocean policing duties to sister ship HMS Northumberland, after six months in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region protecting UK interests and supporting multinational maritime forces.

The two Plymouth-based Type 23 frigates met at sea to transfer essential stores and key information to enable HMS Northumberland to continue the fight against piracy, narcotics smuggling, and criminal use of the high seas.

Members of HMS Somerset crew passed on their experience and knowledge about operations and port visits, before bidding farewell as HMS Somerset continued homeward.

The captain of HMS Somerset, Commander Mike Smith said: “HMS Somerset has had a hugely successful Operation Kipion deployment. My ship's company can be extremely proud of what they have achieved over the last six months.

“Even though HMS Somerset leaves the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region, she will maintain a vital international security presence and continue to protect the nation’s interests whilst returning home to friends and families in the UK.”

Commodore Keith Blount, Commander of the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) based in Bahrain said: “Since her arrival in the Gulf, HMS Somerset has made a significant contribution to Operation Kipion, in both a counter-narcotics and counter-piracy capacity. The Type 23 Frigate is perfect for the nature of the operations we conduct here, and this was proven by HMS Somerset and her crew seizing one of the Royal Navy’s largest drug hauls in the region during her tour. I wish HMS Somerset and her crew a safe journey home.”