SHE’s played a vital role in protecting the nation - now HMS Dragon is ready to rule again.
The Type 45 destroyer has been out of action for a year whilst undergoing a major upgrade to ensure she’s kitted out with the most advanced weaponry and marine engineering equipment to tackle global threats.
And yesterday as the sun beamed down on the mega vessel – which boasts 12ft tall red Welsh dragon emblems – she was formally brought back to the fleet during a glittering rededication ceremony at Portsmouth’s naval base.
The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood marched and played in front of a delighted crowd while Two Typhoon aircrft from the ship’s affiliate RAF unit – 11 squadron – performed a stunning flypass.
The warship is capable of shooting down planes and firing down incoming missiles and has a radar that can detect plane movements from Paris while in Portsmouth.
And she could act as the ‘guardian’ to one of the Royal Navy’s new huge carriers once they’re brought to Portsmouth by the end of the decade.
Dragon’s senior crew spoke of their immense pride.
Dragon’s Commanding Officer, Captain Craig Wood, said: ‘This is an incredibly important part of the ship’s life, as she now comes out of that refit and that’s testament to the dedication of the workforce.
‘But most importantly, my ship’s company.
‘They joined as a disparate team and they now really bond as a single team.
‘And now with Dragon we are putting the war back into warship.
Talking abot how crucial the vessel is to UK defence and the future of the Royal Navy, Captain Wood said: ‘Dragon is designed for anti-aircraft warfare.
‘We are gearing up towards the carriers arriving and Dragon, or one of her associate ships, will be guarding the Queen Elizabeth or Prince of Wales.
‘We are the guardians and will perform that strategic piece of duty.
‘I am incredibly proud to be the captain of the ship and of the 180 sailors that I have the honour to captain. It’s a great responsibility.’
The hour-long ceremony was rounded off in traditional style as special cake honouring Dragon was cut with a sword.
Susie Boissier, the ship’s sponsor who launched the vessel on the Clyde in 2008, was a special guest.
She said: ‘I am delighted to have been invited and I am excited to see HMS Dragon here, looking so stunning.
‘With the dragon on the bow it makes you very proud.’
HMS Dragon will now carry out her first set of sea trials following her re-fit.