Britain’s most advanced warship has joined allied navies in a sweep of troubled waters for her first major operation east of Suez, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced.
The Type 45 destroyer joined Australian, Pakistani, New Zealand and Yemeni ships and personnel for Operation SCIMITAR ANZAC, scouring the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Yemen for illegal activity.
The operation has also seen HMS Daring put her command abilities to the test for the first time as she hosted the Australian and New Zealand Navy personnel who are currently directing the at-sea activities of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, to which the Type 45 belongs on her east of Suez mission.
As well as being able to shoot down incoming missiles travelling at three times the speed of sound, the Portsmouth-based warship has specially-built command facilities, including a dedicated planning room, from where the movements and actions of a task group can be directed.
In addition to the CTF 150 command team, Daring – on her maiden deployment – also embarked Yemeni observers, whose contribution proved extremely valuable, providing expertise and in-depth knowledge of the region to the ships involved as the group moved around the area of operations, the UK MoD said.
The Task Force also enjoyed the support of tanker RFA Wave Knight, which kept the ships supplied with fuel and stores and also contributed her Lynx helicopter.
“Seeing all of the different nations working together aboard Daring was very encouraging. The in-depth knowledge provided by the Yemenis has also been particularly useful,” said Daring’s Petty Officer, Lee Butler.
Captain Lance Cook, Royal New Zealand Navy, Chief of Staff of the embarked command team from CTF 150, explained that the operation is significant as more than 23 000 vessels a year pass through the waters patrolled during SCIMITAR ANZAC.
His Task Force’s key mission is to stamp out illicit activity – piracy, smuggling, people-trafficking – and safeguard mariners going about their lawful business, thus maintaining stability in the region.
Daring completed four years of sea trials and training late last year. She carried out various exercises as part of her final training, including hurricane disaster relief; evacuating civilians from a worsening international crisis; dealing with terrorist attacks; demonstrate that she can cope with an attack involving biological or chemical weapons; fighting off swarms of small attack craft at sea; and fending off an air attack.
The vessel, with a crew of 180, built with a futuristic design that makes it difficult to detect using radar.
Daring is the first of six new destroyers which will replace the Royal Navy’s Type 42 vessels, which entered service in the 1970s. Although half the class of six Type 45s have been declared operational, none have deployed yet as they have been undergoing either training, maintenance or enhancements (Daring herself has received additional firepower in the form of Phalanx automated Gatling guns.)
The Type 45s are armed with high-tech Sea Viper anti-air missiles and will be able to carry 60 troops. They also have a large flight deck which can accommodate helicopters the size of a Chinook as well as take on board 700 people in the case of a civilian evacuation.
2012 will be the ‘Year of the 45’ with Daring, Dauntless and Diamond all earmarked to make their maiden deployments.
The UK originally sought to procure air defence ships as part of the eight-nation NFR-90 project and later the Horizon Common New Generation Frigate programme with France and Italy. The Type 45s take advantage of some Horizon development work and utilise the Sea Viper missile system (the SAMPSON radar variant of the Principal Anti-Air Missile System).
In an “intensive attack” a single Type 45 could simultaneously track, engage and destroy more targets than five Type 42 destroyers operating together. The Daring class are the largest escorts ever built for the Royal Navy in terms of displacement, at around 8 000 tonnes.
Originally a dozen ships were supposed to be bought but the number was halved in 2008, something that was hugely controversial.
The ships have a designed top speed of more than 27 knots and a range of more than 7 000 nautical miles.