SIBLINGS who serve on one of the biggest ships in the Royal Navy sailed back into their native North-East yesterday.

Scott and Stephanie Gafney, from Barnard Castle, were on board HMS Bulwark when it docked in North Shields for a four-day stay.

The 18,400-tonne amphibious landing ship has been completing exercises in Norway, in which she attained the ceremonial Blue Nose awarded to a ship and its company on crossing into the Arctic or Antarctic Circle.

Stephanie, 21, who has been in the Navy for two-and-a-half years, said: “I really enjoy doing the exercises. It’s a bit of excitement. But I am really looking forward to seeing my mam and dad, family and friends, and the dog.”

Her 19-year-old brother has served for about two years.

The ship is affiliated to County Durham and the crew of about 400 have joined 33,000 others who have pledged their support to the bid to be the first UK City of Culture in 2013.