THE Royal Navy’s new £1bn destroyer HMS Daring left Portsmouth today for her first operational deployment.
The warship slipped her moorings at 12.30pm, passing the Round Tower where a crowd of relatives and friends cheered and waved to loved ones who proudly lined the deck.
Daring’s six-month maiden deployment will see her head for the Middle East at a time of growing international tensions with Iran over the dictatorship’s nuclear enrichment programme.
The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Guy Robinson, 44, of Whiteley, told The News: ‘It’s hugely exciting. It’s a great privilege to be commanding officer of this ship, especially to be in command for her first sailing on operations.
‘It’s been a year of hard work building up to this point over the last year and it’s a chance to go and show what we are made of.’
Daring is the first of six new Type 45 destroyers built for the Royal Navy to replace the 30-year-old Type 42 destroyers.
The ships - four of which have so far been delivered to Portsmouth by BAE Systems - are billed as the most advanced destroyers to ever sail under the navy’s White Ensign.
Daring’s 190 sailors will take the ship east through the Suez Canal for six months of operations. During her time away, she will make a number of key port visits to fly the flag and conduct counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Gulf.
She will also be in the area as a contingency asset for the British government if Iran carries out its threat to close the busy Strait of Hormuz in retaliation to western pressure for an embargo on Iranian oil exports.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond warned Iran last week that any attempt to close the key oil trading route would be ‘illegal and unsuccessful’ and would be met by action from Royal Navy warships stationed in the region.