HMS Duncan commissioned

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier leaves Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time on October 30. 

Picture: Malcolm Wells

HMS Queen Elizabeth due into Portsmouth

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THE last of a new generation of Type 45 destroyers was commissioned at Portsmouth Naval Base today.

Friends and relatives joined the 190-strong ship’s company of HMS Duncan for the ceremony.

Ship's sponsor Lady Ibbotson at the commissioning ceremony for HMS Duncan today

Ship's sponsor Lady Ibbotson at the commissioning ceremony for HMS Duncan today

Among the crowd was Clipper Round The World Race organiser Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, who served on the previous incarnation of HMS Duncan, a Type 14 anti-submarine ship decommissioned in 1985.

One of his shipmates then, Lt Cdr John Bullock, 51, from Falmouth, is now also serving on the new HMS Duncan.

He said: ‘I joined in 1982 as a marine engineer apprentice.

‘I was actually due to leave the navy later this year but I got a phone call saying they had a sea job for me, and would I like to do it. What a privilege! I’ve had my career extended, and I will have two Duncan book-ends.’

HMS Duncan arrived in Portsmouth in March after being fitted out in Scotland.

Since then she has been carrying out sea trials and testing, and will have further sea trials and crew training before she is ready for deployment next summer.

Her commanding officer, Commander James Stride, said: ‘This is probably the most advanced warship in the world.

‘It’s great to see the family and relatives of those who served on the fifth incarnation of her in World War Two as well as some of those who served on the sixth, up to the 80s.

‘I am particularly looking forward to serving with my ship’s crew. I have 190 highly motivated and professional men and women who really enjoy being on HMS Duncan.’

HMS Duncan joins HMS Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon and Defender as the sixth and last of the navy’s new Portsmouth-based Type 45s.

The Band of HM Royal Marines School of Music provided a rousing musical backdrop to her acceptance into the Fleet.

Along with the crew’s family, the ceremony played host to Lady Marie Ibbotson – the ship’s sponsor who launched the vessel at BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard on the River Clyde.