HMS Defender gets ready for lift off

LANDING A Lynx helicopter
LANDING A Lynx helicopter
HMS Queen Elizabeth as she started her second phase of sea trials last month. Photo: LPhot Kyle Heller

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PORTSMOUTH-based HMS Defender has used her flight deck in anger for the first time as she gears up for front-line service.

The Type 45 destroyer received a Lynx helicopter on board for aviation trials which were passed with flying colours.

The Lynx maritime attack helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron tested Defender’s ability to launch, land on, refuel and look after a helicopter in challenging sea conditions.

Sub-Lieutenant Dan Drew, the ship’s Deputy Logistics Officer said: ‘Preparing for an aircraft to land onto a warship is a task which involves everyone on board. From the obvious things like planning and executing these operations, to the less obvious such as painstakingly checking the upper deck for debris which could be harmful to the helicopter, everyone plays a part in increasing Defender’s capabilities that little bit further.’

A key component of Defender’s weapon systems, the Lynx offers the ability to attack hostile ships and submarines at distance from her ‘mother ship’. It is also used regularly at sea by the Royal Navy for other roles such as anti-piracy operations, casualty evacuation, search and rescue and disaster relief.

During the day-long trial the 190 ship’s company took the opportunity to broaden their training horizons by interacting with the flight team. Crash boat crews discussed how to rescue aircrew in an emergency, the ship’s medical teams looked at how casualties could be evacuated by helicopter. The marine engineers, or ‘stokers’, also got involved, practising the delivery of aviation fuel.

In a separate trial, the Defender hosted a team of Army signallers to help test the ship’s new communications equipment.