Crew returns to HMS Duncan after huge refit as Royal Navy battles to get its fleet of destroyers operational
A BILLION-pound destroyer which has spent 18 months in maintenance has taken its first step towards becoming operationally ready – by welcoming its crew on board.
HMS Duncan’s 180-strong ship’s company have returned to the warship following its lengthy upkeep period at Portsmouth Naval Base.
Having returned from operational duty in the Gulf at the end of 2019, Duncan has been supported by BAE Systems throughout her refit with the aim now of getting her back to sea later this year.
Improvements have been made to communications systems, safety equipment, living quarters and galleys, including overhauls of machinery and weapons have been made.
Duncan’s commanding officer, Commander Hugh Harris, said: ‘HMS Duncan has been one of the fleet’s workhorses over the previous couple of years with deployments to the Gulf, Black Sea, Mediterranean and twice leading a Nato maritime group. She certainly earned her time alongside for these improvements.
‘Her refit will make her more capable on operations and more comfortable for the men and women under my command; our job now is to get her ready for sea and whatever operations we are tasked with thereafter.’
The news comes as the navy struggles to get its fleet of six destroyers to sea, with only one – HMS Defender – being operational while the others are either in refit or having repairs.
Defender is guarding aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden voyage to the Far East.
She had been supported by sister ship, HMS Diamond. But the vessel suffered a breakdown earlier this month and remains in port in Italy as her engines are repaired.
It’s Diamond’s second breakdown in four years, with the ship last having to abort its mission in the Gulf in 2017 following similar engine woes.
Hauliers were pictured on Sunday delivering parts to Diamond, which is docked in Taranto.
Meanwhile In Portsmouth, a ‘Colours’ ceremony was held to mark the return of Duncan’s crew.
AB Tia Love, 17 and the youngest member of the ship’s company and is part of the vessel’s warfare department. She said: ‘It’s really exciting to be on board with everyone and a real honour to be part of the first Colours; my brother will be really proud.’
Cdr Harris echoed her sentiments and added: ‘This is a really important step in the regeneration of HMS Duncan as she prepares to return to sea and ultimately to deploy on operations’