A PORTSMOUTH-based air defence warship has been undergoing high level training in the Mediterranean to protect the nation’s defences.
Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond has been put through its paces during the last two weeks of intensive air power training.
The warship and her 200 crew have been tested by fighter jets including Tornados, Typhoons and F16s, plus E3 surveillance aircraft and Voyager transporters in the skies above and around Cyprus.
The ship also tried her hand at anti-submarine warfare – aided by one of the Royal Navy’s hunter-killer submarines.
The destroyer made extensive use of the facilities and equipment at Britain’s bases in Cyprus.
‘All this proves our ability to deploy, operate and sustain ourselves for however long is required,’ said HMS Diamond’s commanding officer Ben Keith.
‘Type 45 destroyers are one of the cornerstones of our modern navy and this training enables us to demonstrate our ability to exercise and operate with armed forces both internationally and across defence.
‘Safeguarding the seas ultimately helps keep Britain safe, as our nation depends so much on the oceans for our economy. My ship’s company stand ready always to provide security where it’s needed on behalf of the UK.’
Having mastered command of the eastern Mediterranean skies, the ship switched focus to honing her gunnery skills.
She fired live rounds from all her guns – including the Phalanx automatic Gatling gun which spews 20mm rounds at incoming fast-attack craft and missiles at a rate of 3,000 per minute.
The submarine crew also joined Diamond for a combined anti-submarine warfare exercise – where the two try to ‘sink’ each other.
Diamond left home at the end of September for an autumn deployment conducting security operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
During the voyage crew undertook a service of remembrance after laying a wreath into the water over the wreck of the WW2-era HMS Diamond, lost off the Peloponnese at the end of April 1941.
With crew ruled out of participation in the Great South Run, they ran the 10-mile race around the NATO base – with the first two miles all uphill. The fastest runner posted a time of 1h 18m – half an hour behind the winner of the real thing in Hampshire.
After loading stores and provisions in Crete, Diamond has returned to the seas around Cyprus for continued training with NATO and UK forces operating in the region and to conduct maritime security patrols.