WITH a deafening roar and a flash of fire, a missile bursts from the silo on board HMS Richmond as she blasts targets on a live firing exercise.
The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate has been training off the south coast demonstrating the power Royal Navy warships wield and preparing for her next deployment in 2015.
Sailors on board destroyed two fast sea-skimming targets while on exercise using the ship’s Seawolf missile system.
The system allows HMS Richmond to defend herself and other vessels in close company from attack by fast jets and other missiles.
Lieutenant Commander Jim Sampson, the weapon engineer officer on board, said: ‘HMS Richmond is an agile, adaptable, multi-purpose frigate that may be deployed at short notice in a wide variety of scenarios, she must be ready to defend herself and protect others at all times.
‘This type of firing proves she is capable of just that –there is no substitute for a live firing to confirm the system is working correctly and can deal with the latest threats.
‘While a lot of preparation goes into a peacetime missile firing, the Seawolf system is always ready to go at extremely short notice.’
The Seawolf missile system provides a vital self-defence capability for HMS Richmond.
If the system were placed in the middle of London, it could track its targets outside the M25 and knock them out the sky somewhere around the north or south circular – and the whole action would take just seconds.
The ship’s gunnery officer Lieutenant Commander Paul Irving said: ‘The ship is well trained and well drilled in conducting these firings.
‘Great care is taken to ensure their success.’
HMS Richmond continues training in preparation for the ship’s next deployment.