HMS Daring will sail from Portsmouth in the New Year, after more than four years of trials, tests and training, which have just concluded with eight weeks off Plymouth.
The first of six Type 45 destroyers, HMS Daring will sail on her maiden deployment next year, after she and her company of 180 men and women came through final training with flying colours.
The Portsmouth-based warship has just completed two months in the hands of the team from Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), specialists who prepare the entire fleet for all eventualities when deployed around the globe.
Daring left Operational Sea Training (OST) off Plymouth with a ‘very satisfactory’ score from the assessors – most ships generally pass the exacting workout with a ‘satisfactory’ mark:
“Everyone’s really pleased that the ship did so well at OST – we are ready for anything now,” said Leading Seaman John Davies.
“It will be great to get home though, see my wife, and relax for the first time in two long months.”
Those ‘two long months’ saw Daring carry out hurricane disaster relief at Bull Point, opposite Devonport Naval Base; evacuate civilians from a worsening international crisis; deal with terrorist attacks while alongside at the base; demonstrate that she can cope with an attack involving biological or chemical weapons; fight off swarms of small attack craft at sea; and, not least, her raison d’etre, fending off air attack.
Daring came through her first stint with FOST in the spring of 2010, during which numerous lessons were learned about training the 45s for front line deployments – and since when Daring herself has received additional firepower (Phalanx automated Gatling guns) and witnessed a substantial change in personnel (including a new commanding officer).
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.
2012 will be the ‘Year of the 45’ with Daring, Dauntless and Diamond all earmarked to make their maiden deployments.
The first to go, fittingly, will be Daring – although when and where to will not be disclosed until nearer her departure date.
Over the next few weeks bespoke kit for her impending deployment will be fitted and tested, and there will be some final maintenance and husbandry before the destroyer sails.
“I now have absolute confidence in my ship and her crew,” said Commanding Officer Captain Guy Robinson.
“I have seen them face the challenges that may be expected of a warship which could be asked to operate anywhere across the globe.
“Recent events in the Mediterranean and Middle East demonstrate just how quickly a crisis can develop. Daring’s versatility, reach and punch make her a very credible UK asset – and one that I am proud to command.”
The Type 45 class are air defence destroyers that will replace the Royal Navy’s Type 42 destroyers. The ships are now built by BAE Systems Surface Ships. The first three ships were assembled by BAE Systems Surface Fleet Solutions from partially prefabricated “blocks” built at different ship yards.
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.
The Type 45’s main weapon is the principal anti-aircraft missile system (PAAMS), a tri-national programme involving France, Italy and the UK. The missiles being developed for PAAMS are the Aster 15 and the Aster 30. The Type 45 will be able to carry up to 48 Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles.
The ships are fitted with the 114 mm Mk 8 Mod 1 medium-calibre gun system for shore bombardment and two 30 mm guns. There is provision for the installation of two close-in weapons systems such as the Raytheon Phalanx.
A single helicopter can be carried on a flight deck.