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The Royal Navy’s lead submarine has returned home to Faslane from the other side of the world.
HMS Astute, and the 100 personnel that work onboard, had been deployed to Australia as part of the Carrier Strike group, which included aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, F-35 Lightning jets, a ring of escort warships.
HMS Astute, first of her class, is the lead submarine in the Royal Navy’s fleet of Attack submarines and said to be one of the most advanced submarines in the world.
One of four Astute class boats currently in-service, it was the final Royal Navy vessel to return to the UK before Christmas.
Speaking during the submarine’s return Head of the Royal Navy Submarine Service Commodore Jim Perks said: ‘HMS Astute has today returned to her home port on the Clyde.
‘Despite the challenges of deploying during a global pandemic, Astute has demonstrated the flexibility and reach that a submarine can bring. Her ship’s company can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved.’
During her deployment with the Carrier Strike group HMS Astute visited Australia to help cement links between the two nations following the announcement of the AUKUS agreement in September.
The trilateral agreement, between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, will see the nations work on cooperation and engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
The first step of this cooperation will be to determine the best path for the provision of a flotilla of nuclear-powered submarines to the Royal Australian Navy.
Commander Perks described the Carrier Strike Group deployment as a milestone in the development of UK Carrier Strike, providing an opportunity to gain further experience in operating the Lightning F-35B aircraft from the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
HMS Queen Elizabeth was protected by a ring of escort warships during operations, with HMS Astute providing an undersea defence against other submarines.
The other task group vessels, including HMS Queen Elizabeth, returned to their home ports on December 9, while frigate HMS Kent and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Fort Victoria were slightly later, getting back home on December 10 and 12 respectively.
Astute returned to HMNB Clyde, the home of the UK submarine service, on December 20.
Moving On – Mid Argyll, the charity supporting homeless people, delivered 54 Christmas parcels over the festive period.
The charity works year round providing starter packs to homeless people moving into permanent homes as well as food parcels to those in emergency need.
Speaking after the Christmas parcels were delivered, a spokesperson for the charity said: ‘We are so grateful to everyone who helped in any way, particularly those who donated food and other items for the parcels. We can now be sure that 54 families will have a better Christmas than maybe they expected.’
A kilted new year dook by Donald Self into the icy waters of Loch na Cille on New Year’s Day was sadly called off due to illness, but it won’t dampen his fundraising enthusiasm.
Donald, a sixth year student at Lochgilphead High School, is due to head out to Senegal in August for a 12-month placement teaching English in a school there.
The dook was intended to help raise funds for the trip through Argyll-based charity Project Trust, which has been organising long-term voluntary placements in Africa, Asia and Latin America for young people since 1967.
Donald said: ‘I applied to become an overseas volunteer with Project Trust because I felt the length of their placements gives me the opportunity to learn about and immerse myself into another culture, see a totally different part of the world and learn a new language.
‘Also, Project Trust has very good relations on the ground in the countries that it sends volunteers to.
This means volunteers only end up working jobs where they are really needed and sought after in the communities. This will, I hope, allow me to have a real impact on my placement in Senegal.’
Donald needs to raise £6,950 for Project Trust to fund his project and help the charity continue its global operations.
He added: ‘Any donations, no matter how small, would be greatly appreciated.’
Donald has set up a Just Giving page entitled Teaching in Senegal with Project Trust.
Project Trust brings international volunteering opportunities to young people. NO_T53_ProjectTrust07