THE latest of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers has begun the long road to front-line duties after sailing from Portsmouth for the first time under the White Ensign.
HMS Defender is now undergoing training off the south coast to meet its aim of being declared ready for operations early next year.
The ship’s captain, Commander Phil Nash, said the sailing was the culmination of over two years of hard work, adding: ‘Leaving Portsmouth as planned and on time is a huge achievement and brings the ship another step closer to deploying on operations wherever in the world we are needed.
‘I know my sailors are proud to be part of Defender’s first ship’s company – I am equally proud of them.’
The £1bn warship – the fifth of six new Portsmouth-based destroyers – was handed over to the navy in July.
As well as readying systems and stocking up on supplies, the ship’s company has been drilled in the art of naval ceremony – which came in handy when HMS York made her final entry into Portsmouth last month.
Defender’s sailors lined the upper deck, doffing caps and gave three hearty cheers in tribute to the old Type 42 destroyer’s 27 years of service to Queen and country.