FIRE-BREATHING dragons are the stuff of legends, but there is nothing mythical about the weaponry of this Type 45 destroyer.
The crew of HMS Dragon have been testing her equipment with some target practice in the Gulf.
The Portsmouth-based ship is on her maiden deployment and is the fourth of the six destroyers to be put to task.
HMS Dragon has fully-automated systems on board, but the ship’s company needs to be prepared should the worst happen and those computers not be available.
This means her crew need to know how to operate her weapons without the aid of technology.
So in the Gulf of Aden, the sailors have been put to the test and they passed with flying colours – and more than a few loud bangs.
Able Seaman Ben Pritchett, 23, from Portsmouth, would normally be found at HMS Dragon’s helm, or maintaining the ship’s sea survival equipment.
But for this practice session, he landed the job of targeting and directing the gunfire.
He said: ‘This was the first time I’d done this and the kit was really easy to use.
‘It’s a lot more accurate than you’d think.
‘Normally you would see people using laser or radar technology to shoot the gun, or even be sat in the seat firing.
‘Instead, it feels really responsible to know that the weapon system is pointing where you are looking.’
The target of this weapons test was a 1m cube of indestructible polystyrene.
The ship’s Royal Marine boarding party were responsible for conducting small arms and sea boat-mounted firing.
Meanwhile, those on the ship’s bridge could practice their handling of the ship as they recovered the cube after each test.
Once the Royal Marines and tactical coxswains had their turn, it was time to put the destroyer’s 30mm cannon to use.