Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan leaves Portsmouth to protect French aircraft carrier as a warm up for mission with HMS Queen Elizabeth
A WARSHIP has set sail from Portsmouth to begin her mission protecting a French aircraft carrier.
Families waved goodbye to their loved ones as HMS Duncan left the city for her latest six-month deployment overseas.
For the first part of her deployment the £1bn Type 45 destroyer will be operating in the Mediterranean Sea, tasked with providing area air defence to the French Aircraft Carrier, FS Charles De Gaulle as part of their carrier strike group deployment, Groupe Aéronaval 19.
The mission is seen as a critical milestone in preparing the Type 45 destroyer for future protection duties guarding HMS Queen Elizabeth - the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier - on her first deployment in 2021.
Upon detaching from the FS Charles De Gaulle, HMS Duncan will resume Nato operations as required.
Commander Tom Trent, Duncan’s new captain, said: ‘HMS Duncan has regenerated after a successful tour as Nato flagship on operations in 2018, as documented in the Channel 5 documentary Warship: Life at Sea, and is now ready to deploy as part of a multinational air defence task group in support of the aircraft carrier, FS Charles De Gaulle.
‘This operation with the aircraft carrier is an ideal chance to demonstrate the prime role of HMS Duncan as one of the world’s most advanced destroyers. With HMS Queen Elizabeth almost ready for task group operations, this will be an excellent chance to prove the ability of the T45 as a carrier escort.’
Her sister ship HMS Dragon is currently deployed in the warmer waters of the Gulf where she is working with combined maritime forces to protect some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and conducting counter-narcotic operations.
HMS Defender continues operations in home waters shadowing Russian ships through the North Sea.
Able Seaman (AB) Bradley Stapleton, aged 19, is embarking on his first deployment with Duncan.
He said, ‘There is a sense of both excitement and trepidation for me as this is the first time I have been away on real operations, but I am looking forward to adventure ahead.’
The destroyer left her home port to cheering crowds on the Round Tower. Afterwards, families and friends enjoyed a reception at the Cockleshell Community Centre.
HMS Duncan’s executive warrant officer, Warrant Officer Martin ‘Soapy’ Watson, 42, said: ‘This is an exciting opportunity to work with the French Aircraft Carrier and there are a number of port visits to enjoy, some of which even I have not managed to visit in my 26-year career.’
HMS Duncan is the sixth Type 45 air defence destroyers and one of the most advanced warships in the world.
She sails with a crew of more than 280 personnel and is based at Portsmouth Naval Base.