Royal Navy Engineering Technician Craig McGuinness is well used to a life on the ocean wave - as he has spent more than six months deployed to foreign shores since joining the service in March 2010.
So Paddy, as he’s better known, who is from Bearsden, made the most of the rare recent UK engagement when his ship, HMS Portland, visited both Edinburgh and London.
The 3,500-tonne warship sailed into Leith in late June for the start of a six-day visit during which she was the focal point for the national Armed Forces Day events. After a short exercise in the North Sea, she then sailed up the Thames, cleared Tower Bridge and moored next to the famous WW1 battle-cruiser, HMS Belfast, for several days.
For former Bearsden Academy pupil Paddy (18) the port visits still meant a busy schedule as not only was the ship open to tours by the general public but he still had his regular duties to perform.
He works as Weapons Engineer on board, but despite being busy, he still had some time
ashore to sample what the capital cities had to offer.
Paddy, whose father served in the Navy for 23 years and saw action in the Falklands conflict, said: “In Edinburgh it was really hectic. We hosted a formal dinner for Armed Forces Day, then on the Friday we had a number of serials and displays designed to showcase the capability of the Royal Navy.
“The packed programme of events in Leith culminated in a spectacular aerial display by the world-famous Red Arrows display team, which was quite thrilling to watch.”
Though Paddy has only been in the navy a short time he found his sea legs on HMS Portland’s deployment to the South Atlantic – including a visit to the same Falkland Islands where his father served back in 1982.
He added: “Last year alone, HMS Portland spent eight months deployed on operations in the South Atlantic and East Pacific. So getting involved in Armed Forces Day and visiting London this year was a nice balance to being away. But I joined the navy to experience new things and travel and I enjoyed that deployment. It all makes coming home and seeing friends and family that bit more special.”
HMS Portland returned from a 32,000 mile deployment to the South Atlantic, Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Sea in November last year. The tour covered visits to 11 countries, including a four month trip to the Falkland Islands as Atlantic Patrol Task ship, and to Chile for their 200th anniversary celebrations.
The ship sailed the length and breadth of the Atlantic, engaged in counter-narcotics operations, navigated the Magellan Straits, Patagonian and Panama Canals and crossed the Equator twice.
Powerful and versatile with the capability to operate anywhere in the world, the Type 23 frigate is the mainstay of the modern surface fleet and forms 50 per cent of the total frigate/destroyer force in the Royal Navy. HMS Portland was launched at Scotstoun on the Clyde on May 15, 1999 by Lady Heather Brigstocke and was accepted into service on December 15 2000, before being commissioned on May 3, 2001.