Home for Christmas: Royal Navy sailor back on dry land as HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to UK

A Royal Navy sailor is back on dry land and looking forward to spending time with his family in Midlothian after the largest vessel in the UK fleet steamed back to her home port.

By Stephen Wilkie
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 4:55 am

Petty Officer Joseph Neale has travelled the globe proudly serving his country and his most recent deployment saw to the other side of the world and back was the Royal Navy’s largest operational deployment in a generation.

The 40-year-old was deployed on the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, on her first operational mission as part of the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group.

The task group’s journey began in May with a farewell from Her Majesty the Queen and has seen the task group sail from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Mediterranean, across the Indian Ocean, into the Pacific and back again.

Petty Officer Joseph Neale on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s operations included launching the first F-35 sorties from the Mediterranean north in to the Black Sea, while also sending state-of-the-art jets east in to Iraq and Syria on 6 to 7 hour missions in support of Op SHADER and responding to Russian air incursions.

PO Neale grew up in Danderhall and attended Danderhall Primary and Dalkieth High School before following in his Grandfathers footsteps and beginning his career in the Royal Navy aged 18.

His job on board the giant ship – assembled at Rosyth Dockyard on the Firth of Forth – is to ensure everyone onboard is well fed.

'Big Lizzie' dwarfs a sailing ship in the Med

PO Neale’s mammoth task involves calculating the amount of food required to feed 1600 hungry personnel, providing 4 meals a day for 7 months.

With 22 years of experience on 8 different ships, he is the perfect fit in his role as training manager to the many catering services personnel onboard.

He said: “The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the training manger aspect, coaching & mentoring the junior members of the Catering Services Department so they can reach their full potential”.

Looking forward to some personal time with his loved ones after seven months at sea, he said: “We cannot wait to introduce ours 15-month-old daughter Theadora to my own mother for the first time. “

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