Portsmouth ship’s new addition goes on the prowl

The Wildcat helicopter in action

The Wildcat helicopter in action


SLEEK and dark, she lurks beneath the surface of the sea, stalking her prey.

HMS Dragon sits in the background, while the submarine, which has not been identified for security reasons, shadows the ship.

It’s all part of one of the navy’s biggest exercises, Exercise Joint Warrior, which takes place every two years off the coast of Scotland.

For the sailors on board Portsmouth-based HMS Dragon one of the toughest challenges was given to the crew of their embarked helicopter.

The Wildcat is the newest helicopter in the Royal Navy’s arsenal, and provides the aerial eyes for the ship.

From next year, the Wildcat will replace the Lynx helicopter as the mainstay of aerial operations by the navy’s Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers.

But for now, one of them has joined the crew of Dragon to take part in naval war games.

Captain Iain Lower, the commanding officer of HMS Dragon, said: ‘This year has already been another of many firsts for Dragon, and we were delighted to assist in this way to bring on the capability of this aircraft.

‘It was fantastic for all of my sailors to work with the Wildcat team and to have the aircraft aboard a Type 45 for such a long period.

‘A brand new aircraft on the navy’s newest warship is more evidence of the exciting future ahead of us.’

Although it looks similar to its predecessor, the Wildcat is a different aircraft.

The helicopter’s time on board HMS Dragon is the first time that type of aircraft has spent such a lengthy time at sea, and is the first time it has taken part in an exercise on board a ship.

Wildcat is expected to be declared operational in 2015, and is due to deploy for the first time in May next year.

Lieutenant Dave Neyland, the Wildcat pilot on board HMS Dragon, said: ‘On this deployment, our focus was working on tactical development. The chance to be at sea with so many other ships and submarines, from across the world, was not one to be missed.’

HMS Dragon will soon pay a high profile visit to her twin city of Cardiff, where her sailors will receive the freedom of the city.

The destroyer will then deploy again in October, less than a year after returning from her last operational tour.

As reported in The News, HMS Dragon deployed to the Gulf to carry out maritime security operations there.




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