HMS Edinburgh announced her return in style, firing three Sea Dart missiles off the coast of Scotland.
The Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyer, which underwent a £17.5m upgrade last year, destroyed a target drone off the coast of the Outer Hebrides.
Some 3,750 square miles of sea and air space were cleared before three missiles were let loose from the ship.
Within a second of being fired, the missiles had accelerated to twice the speed of sound, bathing the Atlantic in an orange glow.
The firing was the last act in Edinburgh’s long road back from refit.
She has spent the past four months undergoing a non-stop series of trials, tests and exercises to prepare for all the rigours of deployment.
Edinburgh’s captain Commander Paul Russell said: ‘The shooting down of live targets is the pinnacle of HMS Edinburgh’s regeneration. We now stand ready to deploy as a fully operational warship.’
Edinburgh will be departing Portsmouth later this spring to replace her sister ship HMS York in patrolling the Falklands.
Despite leaving Portsmouth in February, York has only just reached the area after she was diverted to evacuate civilians from Libya in March.
The Type 42s are a dying breed – they will all be phased out by six new £1bn Type 45 destroyers by 2014.
HMS Manchester and HMS Gloucester were retired earlier this year. The MoD will soon announce which scrap firm won an online auction for HMS Nottingham, Exeter and Southampton, which are in Portsmouth Harbour.