HMS Defender supports operations against ISIL in the middle east

HMS Defender has arrived on station to provide vital support to a US Navy carrier task group in the Gulf, using her world-class air defence weapon systems to protect the US Navy aircraft carrier, USS George H W Bush and her aircraft as they launch airstrikes as part of the international coalition against ISIL.

HMS Defender, one of the most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy, is operating as a fully integrated part of the carrier strike group.

Using her air defence radar and Sea Viper missile system, the ship provides an ‘umbrella’ of air defence to the Nimitz class aircraft carrier and her escort ships while they patrol the Gulf and launch airstrikes against the terrorist group ISIL.

Deployed to the Gulf in June 2014, HMS Defender’s primary role has been to conduct maritime security operations as part of the United Kingdom’s enduring commitment to the region as well as working with the 30 nation Combined Maritime Forces organisation and Gulf Cooperation Council countries to bolster existing relationships.

HMS Defender is now operating with the US Navy’s Arleigh-Burke class destroyers USS Truxton and USS Roosevelt and the Ticonderoga class destroyer USS Phillipine Sea to provide support for the aircraft carrier.

The decision by the Government to task a Royal Navy destroyer to support operations against ISIL also shows the United Kingdom’s commitment to combat terrorism.

Commodore Keith Blount, OBE

Engaged in round-the-clock operations, HMS Defender’s task is to build an accurate air surveillance picture over the whole of the Gulf in order to guard the US aircraft carrier against possible air attack while she launches airstrikes against ISIL targets.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Phil Nash Royal Navy, explained how much HMS Defender is gaining from her role in supporting the US aircraft carrier:

“As an air defence destroyer, HMS Defender was built for exactly the sort of tasking that we are conducting in support of the USS George H W Bush.

"Since we arrived in the Gulf in June, we have been engaged in exercises with navies from around the world to test our air defence capabilities and I am delighted that my ship’s company now have an opportunity to put into practice the training they have received over the past few months .

"This will be our primary role in the future, so to be able to provide the same defensive shield to a US Navy aircraft carrier that we will deliver as part of a British carrier strike group is an excellent chance to prove the value we can add in a national and international environment.”

Commodore Keith Blount OBE Royal Navy, the United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander based in Bahrain, added:

“HMS Defender is just one of several Royal Navy ships deployed to the Gulf, which demonstrates the importance of the region to the United Kingdom and how much we value the relationships we have with our regional partners and allies.

“The decision by the Government to task a Royal Navy destroyer to support operations against ISIL also shows the United Kingdom’s commitment to combat terrorism.

"The ship’s company of HMS Defender can be proud that, in whatever they are doing onboard, they are actively contributing to the security of region and the interests of the United Kingdom.”

The United Kingdom has already committed Royal Air Force fighter bombers to carry out reconnaissance missions and airstrikes in Iraq and the deployment of one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced warships demonstrates further resolve in combatting the threat of ISIL.