IT’S a little bit smaller than the method of travel Commander Darren Houston has been used to for the last 20 months.
But the commanding officer of HMS Dragon was given the perfect send-off as he stepped down from the role.
To the sound of applause from his ship’s company, Cdr Houston was whisked off in a Scimitar armoured vehicle, provided by the ship’s affiliated Army regiment, the Royal Welsh.
He has passed on command of the Type 45 destroyer to take up a new role with a Mediterranean task group.
Cdr Houston said: ‘I have been immensely proud to be in command of HMS Dragon in these early stages of her service.
‘The crew has developed enormously in a very short space of time and has now delivered a coherent fight unit for deployment anywhere around the world.
‘I shall watch over HMS Dragon as she progresses through her operational program with interest, assured she is in a safe pair of hands.’
As commanding officer, Cdr Houston has taken HMS Dragon to Cardiff, Liverpool, Belfast and Fowey to show off the capabilities of the Type 45 destroyer.
The warship was also opened to the public during the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in Portsmouth.
In the last 10 months, more than 15,000 members of the public have been able to visit HMS Dragon.
Cdr Houston has passed on command to Captain Iain Lower, formerly the naval assistant to the First Sea Lord.
He goes on to be embarked as a chief of staff with a Mediterranean-based multinational task group.
Capt Lower said: ‘I am thrilled to be commanding a ship with such a strong reputation. Having witnessed at first hand recently the unit at Operational Sea Training, I sense the drive, energy and enthusiasm within the team on board that are ready for the challenges ahead.’
HMS Dragon is currently undergoing her final maintenance and trial preparations before a deployment in March.
Commissioned early last year, she is the fourth in line alongside HMS Daring, HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Defender and HMS Duncan.