There is a sense of both excitement and trepidation for me as this is the first time I have been away on real operations.

Able Seaman Bradley Stapleton

"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 Type 45 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.

Commander Trent added: "I would like to thank all the families and friends of HMS Duncan and all of our naval and civilian partners who have made this period of complex operations such a success."

Able Seaman (AB) Bradley Stapleton, aged 19, is embarking on his first deployment. 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 the adventure ahead."

HMS Duncan left her home port to cheering crowds on the Round Tower, in Old Portsmouth. Afterwards, families and friends enjoyed a reception at the Cockleshell Community Centre, in Southsea, hosted by Royal Navy and Royal Marines Welfare.

The destroyer's Executive Warrant Officer 42-year-old Warrant Officer Martin 'Soapy' Watson, 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 I haven't managed to visit in my 26-year career."

HMS Duncan is the sixth of the highly-capable Type 45 air defence destroyers and one of the most advanced warships in the world. She sails with a ship's company in excess of 280 personnel and is based at Portsmouth Naval Base. 

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