The UK Royal Navy Type 45 Daring-class air-defence destroyer HMS Defender (D36) has arrived back into Portsmouth after her first time back at sea following an 18-month refit.
The Type 45 destroyer put her systems and personnel to the test over the seven-day period following the major upkeep which saw two new gas turbines fitted along with new signals intelligence equipment and electronic surveillance kit.
The ship’s company were also put through a number of drills including dealing with fires and floods on board to retest their skills in combatting emergencies on board.
Commanding Officer of HMS Defender Commander Richard Hewitt said: “I am incredibly proud to have taken HMS Defender to sea for the first time in 18 months thanks to the hard work of Team Portsmouth, BAE Systems and my ship’s company.
“With a number of major capability upgrades, HMS Defender is now the most capable T45 in the Fleet. My crew and I look forward to the challenges of regenerating HMS Defender, in the last stage of the first T45 refit in the Royal Navy, in preparation for our Fleet Date later this year.”
Fleet date marks the start of a return to operational duties for the ship.
HMS Defender’s return was also the first time at sea for many of the younger members of the ship’s company including Able Seaman Sarah McDonald, 17, one of the chefs on board.
“My first night at sea was good. I had the best sleep! The ship rocked me to sleep and my accommodation is bigger than I thought it would be even though I share with five other people,” she said.
“Joining the Navy has made me a better person. I used to be really, really quiet but since starting this job I have come out of my shell. It’s made me very positive and so much more confident. And I’ve made so many friends since joining this ship, friends for life.”
While out in the South West exercise areas HMS Defender saw her sister ships HMS Diamond and HMS Dragon – both of which were also out on various training serials and testing of equipment.
HMS Diamond has now also returned to Portsmouth while HMS Dragon is working under the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation in Devonport.
A fourth Type 45 destroyer – HMS Duncan is currently the Flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) and is shortly due to visit Constanta following a series of exercise with her NATO allies in the Black Sea.