HMS DRAGON has grown wings on her first deployment to become the first Type 45 destroyer to operate with two helicopters.
The destroyer is in the middle of her maiden deployment, a six-month stint on Gulf patrol duties.
She has now doubled effectiveness by carrying two Lynx helicopters instead of the usual one.
HMS Dragon left Portsmouth in March to relieve Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth in the region.
The ship had one helicopter on board from 815 Naval Air Squadron.
But she also carried a second air and ground crew, to take on HMS Monmouth’s Lynx as well.
The second helicopter was flown across and safely stowed in the destroyer’s hangar, where she underwent maintenance.
Aircraft engineer Petty Officer (Air Engineering Technician) Matt Ferris said: ‘Dual aircraft operations has been a busy time for all.
‘The maintenance hours were triple that of a normal flight because of Monmouth’s helicopter staying in theatre, and keeping up with the high-flying tempo while having two aircraft.’
Having two Lynx helicopters on board meant one aircraft could carry out the day job of surface searches supporting operations, while the second helicopter carried out training with the Royal Marines, did passenger transfers and picked up mail to bolster morale among the 235-strong ship’s company.
At one stage, a call came through from Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Quorn because she needed equipment flown in from Bahrain.
HMS Dragon had also been tasked with a transfer of American sailors, so both helicopters were set to task.
Within two hours, the helicopters were both back in the hangar being prepared for another day’s work.
HMS Dragon’s principal warfare officer, Lieutenant Commander Jason White, said: ‘Having two Lynx aircraft embarked on Dragon for this short period has allowed valuable experience to be gained and lessons learnt throughout the ship which have been captured for the future.’