HMS Duncan on show in Romania and Bulgaria

Britain’s newest warship became the first major UK military vessel in the Black Sea for seven years when she spent a week with the Romanian and Bulgarian Navies.

Fresh from operations in the Gulf, HMS Duncan sailed through the Bosphorus to work with NATO allies – and celebrate the 150th birthday of football in Romania.

Operating off Burgas, Bulgaria, and Constanța, Romania, the destroyer carried out training manoeuvres with the two Navies and hosted senior visitors to showcase what a Type 45 air defence ship can do and discuss recent operational experiences in the Middle East.

Around 350 Romanian sailors – including those aboard the former British frigate HMS London, now the Regina Maria under the blue, yellow and red tricolour – plus MiG-21 Lancer fighters from the Romanian Air Force joined Duncan for two days of combined exercises off Constanța, including mock air attacks and coping with minefields. 


I was proud to visit the Black Sea to work with NATO allies and share experiences of their security work in the region and our recent efforts maintaining freedom of navigation in the Gulf

Commander Rich Atkinson, HMS Duncan’s Commanding Officer

When alongside in Constanța, Duncan hosted an event for companies to showcase British technology from computer-simulated training to coastguard vessels in front of senior Romanian officers including the Chief of Defence, the Heads of the Romanian Navy, Coastguard and other military colleagues.

Duncan’s football team was invited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of football being introduced to Romania – sailors from the gunboat HMS Cockatrice played a game against locals from Sulina in the Danube delta.

The milestone was marked with a competition between British, Romanian, American and Bulgarian servicemen, featured on national TV, with HMS Duncan losing out to the Bulgarian Navy in the final.

In Bulgaria, the Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev travelled from the capital Sofia to thank the UK for showing the importance placed on working with NATO allies.

“Visits like this not only provide the opportunity for our Navies to work together but also give crew members the chance to get to know their counterparts from the Bulgarian Navy better and to enjoy events such as a football match played between teams from HMS Duncan and the Burgas Naval Base,” said Emma Hopkins, Britain’s Ambassador to Sofia.

After eight months east of Suez the mild autumn temperatures of the Black Sea were a welcome respite as Duncan prepares to return home to families and friends.

“I was proud to visit the Black Sea to work with NATO allies and share experiences of their security work in the region and our recent efforts maintaining freedom of navigation in the Gulf,” said Commander Rich Atkinson, Duncan’s Commanding Officer.

“While I am immensely proud of HMS Duncan – one of the most modern and capable air defence warships in the world – it was quite humbling to find that 150 years ago other Royal Navy ships were here playing the first football match in Romania.

“Some things never change, so after playing football matches against local navy teams, my sailors and marines also enjoyed two cracking visits to these popular seaside towns.”

HMS Duncan is now continuing her journey home to the UK.