DEFENDER TACKLES TRIALS AS NEW DESTROYER SAILS UNDER THE WHITE ENSIGN FOR THE FIRST TIME
The fifth of the Navy’s six new Type 45 destroyers has begun the long road to front-line duties, sailing from Portsmouth for the first time under the White Ensign. HMS Defender is now undergoing trials and training off the South Coast ready to be declared operational early next year.
Let us hope that the ominous clouds gathering over the gateway to Portsmouth Harbour are not a portent – for this is an occasion of which to be proud.
This is the very first time HMS Defender has sailed under the White Ensign as the task of turning the fifth Type 45 destroyer into a fully-trained, fully-honed and fully-armed 21st-Century man o’war is now under way.
Friday September 28 was marked in the diary as the ‘ready for sea’ date by the powers that be after two months’ preparation in her home base.
Defender arrived in Portsmouth at the tail end of July – just a few days before the Olympics kicked off.
She entered harbour under the Blue Ensign, before the ship was formally handed over to the Senior Service by builders BAE and the flag was replaced by the Royal Navy’s famous standard.
As well as readying systems and stocking up on supplies over the summer, gunnery senior rating PO Andrew Cload has been drilling the ship’s company in the art of naval ceremony….
…which came in very handy when HMS York made her final entry into Portsmouth last month.
It’s customary for ships to salute each other as they pass – an officer salutes while a rating pipes, normally on the bridge wing or flight deck.
But given York’s fine career, the Defenders felt the White Rose warship deserved “something a little extra” – and obliged by lining the upper deck and ‘cheering ship’: doffing caps and giving three hearty cheers.
Once the formalities were over it was straight back to work in preparation for Defender’s trials (she’s still at sea right now).
“Taking this state-of-the-art destroyer to sea for the first time is no mean feat and represents the culmination of over two years of hard work for my team,” said the destroyer’ first Commanding Officer Cdr Phil Nash.
“Leaving Portsmouth as planned and on time is a huge achievement and brings the ship another step closer to deploying on operations wherever in the world we are needed.
“I know my sailors are proud to be part of Defender’s first ship’s company – I am equally proud of them.”
His ship is due to be declared operational early in the new year.