Arrival of UK's £6bn destroyer fleet in Portsmouth '˜nothing sinister' says admiral

THE MIGHTY £6bn fleet of the Royal Navy's most powerful warships have all docked in Portsmouth for the first time in years.

All six of the Royal Navy’s £1bn-a-piece Type 45 destroyers have arrived in city’s naval base.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the news that the vessels, designed for air defence, have either just returned from operations, are about to be deployed or are having maintenance done.

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A senior naval officer told The News the scenerio was ‘rare’ but ‘not unheard of’.

Vice Admiral Bob Cooling, the former commander of Britain’s last aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, said the situation did not indicate anything sinister.

He explained the navy was coming towards its summer leave period and was using this as an opportunity to give sailors a rest.

‘I think, given the global situation at the moment, that this is probably a rare lull which has allowed them all to come back in,’ he said.

‘And it’s quite right the navy takes advantage of this.

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‘It’s good news because it shows that things are stablising a little bit.

‘This is giving naval families the chance to be together over the summer holidays.’

Described as part of the backbone of the Royal Navy, the 8,000-tonne destroyers are the most powerful ships ever built by Britain.

The first of the six, HMS Daring, was commissioned in July 2009 and was followed by sister ships Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon and Defender.

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The final, HMS Duncan (pictured), was commissioned in 2013.

Andy Smith is the chief executive of the Portsmouth-based armed forces campaign group, UK National Defence Association.

He said the revelation was nothing to worry about.

‘It’s unfortunate timing but it’s not the blunder that some commentators have made it out to be,’ he said.

‘It’s not as if the entire Royal Navy are holed up in Pompey, just the Daring-class destroyers.

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‘We still have plenty of other vessels on deployment in various locations around the world.

‘I suppose the answer is that this should have been thought out a little better so that having all the T45s in one place could have been avoided.

‘But, as I said, it’s not the big news story that it’s been made out to be. Frankly I’m puzzled as to why so many people seem to be getting their knickers in a twist about it.’

Daring, Duncan, Dragon, Diamond and Defender are operational.

Dauntless is in long-term lay up as a training ship.