Portsmouth commissioning ceremony for HMS Defender

Captain Peter Towell OBE, Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan with Arnold Thompson, 82, from Horndean, Brian Lang, 78, and The Mayor of Gosport Cllr. Linda Batty, along with (foreground) Billy Miller, 92. 
Billy and Brian have been involved in every event since its inception 

Picture: Malcolm Wells (170807-6827)

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THEY have been 10 years in the making, now Portsmouth is glowing with pride as all six Type 45 destroyers are serving in the city.

Cheers rang out across the jetty as sailors and their families gathered to officially welcome HMS Defender to the fleet.

The ship's company in front of HMS Defender at Portsmouth naval base today

The ship's company in front of HMS Defender at Portsmouth naval base today

She is the fifth new Type 45 destroyer to be commissioned into service, only a day before her sister ship HMS Duncan arrives in Portsmouth for the first time.

Hundreds of proud relatives of HMS Defender’s 190-strong ship’s company watched an hour-long ceremony from stands put up along the jetty at the naval base.

The Royal Marines band played and a Royal Air Force Typhoon roared overhead to mark the ship entering service.

HMS Defender’s commanding officer is Commander Philip Nash, 43, from Southsea.

He said: ‘We’re really excited. It marks that birth of the ship as a member of the fleet.

‘It marks the transition between a point where the ship is a testing and trials ship to the point where it becomes a warship.

‘That transition is really important for us because we become proper members of the fleet and then we’re able to be deployed wherever Her Majesty sends us.’

Cdr Nash read a commissioning warrant during the hour-long ceremony, which was rounded off with the cutting of a commissioning cake.

The cake was cut by the commanding officer’s wife, Rebecca, along with the youngest member of the ship’s company, Engineering Technician (Marine Engineer) Stephen Smith.

Guests of honour at the event were Lady Julie Massey, the ship’s sponsor, and the Royal Navy’s fleet commander, Vice Admiral Philip Jones.

The service was led by the chaplain of the fleet, the Reverend Scott Brown.

Families of sailors who serve on the ship were then invited to lunch and a tour of HMS Defender.

Another guest was Captain Michael Rawlinson, who was the last commanding officer of the last HMS Defender.

He said: ‘I never expected 44 years ago when came off the last HMS Defender there would be another in my lifetime.

‘A lot of my former ship’s company are here too, so it has been a very special day.’