Defender, the fifth of the Type 45 anti-air warfare destroyers for the Royal Navy, was successfully launched from BVT Surface Fleet’s shipyard at Govan on the Clyde on Wednesday.
Defender was launched and named by Lady Massey, wife of Vice Admiral Sir Alan Massey KCB CBE ADC, in front of over 12 000 people who flocked to the shipyard to join the celebrations for the Glasgow and Exeter affiliated ship, BAE Systems’ naval business unit, BVT Surface Fleet said in a statement.
Alan Johnston, CE of BVT Surface Fleet, said the “launch of Defender highlights the significant progress we have made on the Type 45 programme this year and I’m delighted that so many people have turned out to share this occasion with us.
“We’re currently three weeks ahead of schedule compared to the previous ship Dragon, which is not only a testament to the skills of our employees, but also to our customers and suppliers who’ve worked in partnership with us to get us where we are today.”
Chief-in-Command Fleet Admiral Trevor Soar said the size of the crowd that had gathered to witness the launch of Defender “shows the pride that Scotland rightly takes in its shipbuilding industry which has seen a resurgence in recent times with the Type 45 build programme and the manufacture of the aircraft carriers that they will defend.
“Defender’s affiliation with her ‘home town’ of Glasgow will ensure these strong links live on and gives the Royal Navy the chance to give something back to the community that worked so hard to deliver her and her sister ships,” the admiral added.
Chief of Materiel Fleet Vice Admiral Andrew Mathews added that the Type 45 class is a most formidable ship. “Her world-class Sea Viper missile system which can defend against multiple attacks by the most sophisticated anti-ship missiles bears out the title ‘destroyer’, while Defender’s name hints to her main future role in providing air defence to the Navy’s new aircraft carriers.”
Defender has been progressed to a more advanced state at launch than any of her predecessors – the team has outfitted the ship to the maximum weight possible ahead of launch and the electrical systems on board are already live. Focus will now turn to completing systems and commissioning power and propulsion and combat systems ahead of her hand over to the Royal Navy on schedule in 2012.
With five of the six Type 45s now in the water, BVT is over half way through the programme and is on target to deliver all six ships to the Royal Navy by the end of 2013.
The first of class, HMS Daring was commissioned into service in July and will become operational in February.
Second of class Dauntless has successfully completed sea trials and BVT is on course to hand her over to the Royal Navy in December, whilst Diamond’s sea trials, which began earlier this month, are progressing well.
Dragon is undertaking machinery trials in Scotstoun, with sea trials expected to commence in summer 2010. Defender is 65% complete at launch, and units and blocks for Duncan, the final vessel, are under construction at Govan, with the first block on track to move to berth in January.
BVT last month also signed a £309 million seven year support contract with the Ministry of Defence in a move that will provide the high quality through life support for the Type 45 fleet that’s essential to ensure that the Royal Navy can continue to deliver the high demands placed upon it around the world.
Once in service, the fleet of six Type 45 destroyers will provide the backbone of the UK’s naval air defences for the next 30 years and beyond. The Type 45s will be capable of carrying out a wide range of operations, including anti-piracy and anti-smuggling activities, disaster-relief work and surveillance operations as well as high intensity warfighting.
Each destroyer will be able to engage a large number of targets simultaneously, and defend aircraft carriers or groups of ships, such as an amphibious landing force, against the strongest future threats from the air. The vessels will contribute a specialist air warfare capability to worldwide maritime and joint operations until 2040.