HMS Duncan shows air defence power in exercise

Warship HMS Duncan was kept busy during an Italian-led exercise, carrying out anti-submarine and air defence training.

The Type 45 destroyer spent two weeks off the coast of Italy, joining eight other countries and 57 ships, helicopters and aircraft in Exercise Mare Aperto.

The Royal Navy ship conducted six anti-submarine and 11 air defence exercises in seven days before the participating units divided into opposing forces to test their abilities.

As one of the most capable air defence assets within the NATO group, Duncan was tasked with providing air and surface defences as the exercise moved through the Messina Straits which divide Sicily and mainland Italy.

In the scenario, Italy and Sicily were allies while Sardinia played a hostile nation. To retake control of the region, a major amphibious taskforce was deployed to Sardinia with the Italian ship San Guisto and Spanish ship Galicia landing two battalions of marines ashore.

It is an ideal opportunity to align tactics and procedures within a task group

Lieutenant Commander Ben Dorrington

Duncan provided protection against an array of surface, sub-surface and air threats throughout the 'invasion'.

Lieutenant Commander Ben Dorrington, the principal warfare officer during Exercise Mare Aperto, said: "In an ever unpredictable world, exercises such as this provide allied countries a key opportunity to develop their war-fighting capabilities.

"Most importantly, they demonstrate their resolve against an increasing range of threats.

"It is an ideal opportunity to align tactics and procedures within a task group in anticipation of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth carrier strike deployment in 2021."

Prior to Exercise Mare Aperto, Portsmouth-based Duncan joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). She conducted security operations in the Mediterranean, led by Commodore Boots of the Royal Netherlands Navy on board the Dutch flagship HNLMS Eversten.

In 2017 and 2018 Duncan acted as flagship for the task force - carrying the group's commander and co-ordinating its operations. 

Lieutenant Commander Simon Cave was on the ship for its previous deployment with SNMG2 so can see the difference between their role then and now.

He said: "It is good to be back working with our NATO partners. It is always initially a challenge integrating with the broad spectrum of nationalities but ultimately a rewarding experience."

HMS Duncan continues her deployment in the Mediterranean and will be rejoining SNMG2 later this month.