Sailors visit Manhattan as HMS Dragon stops in New York

Sailors swapped big ships for the Big Apple as HMS Dragon made a stop in New York.

The Type 45 destroyer is off the east coast of America, having broken away from HMS Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the Carrier Stroke Group on Westlant 19. 

During her time alongside the city that never sleeps, sailors were given time to go ashore and see some of its famous landmarks.

They spent time on the observatory deck on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building and also made a fleeting stop to Wall Street.

The group travelled on the metro, where they chatted to officers from the New York Police Department, to see the Museum of Natural History before walking through Central Park.

Later in the day, the HMS Dragon sailors had time to pay their respects to the thousands of people who died in the 9/11 attacks with a moment of reflection at the memorial site of the Twin Towers.

As night fell, they made their final stop to Times Square. 

I have a varied job role so today I am driving a warship and tomorrow I could be RAS-ing and the next day driving a sea boat

AB James Marcer

It was a welcome break for the ship's company who have been working hard as part of the Carrier Strike Group off the coast of the United States.

Working alongside aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, frigate HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce, HMS Dragon has been a key part of the flight trials of the UK F-35 Lightning jets.

Over the past few weeks, pilots have been landing and taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth in UK-owned F35s in a significant milestone for the carrier and her strike group.

While in the Atlantic, HMS Dragon also supported the US Navy by providing air defence to USS Dwight D Eisenhower.

Able Seaman Chloe Higgins-Smith, who works in the supplies department, helps keep the ship at sea for as long as possible be ensuring she has spare parts and food.

RFA Tideforce has been supplying the stores for the Carrier Strike Group, with a helicopter dropping off pallets of fresh food and any additional items needed.

AB Higgins-Smith said: "I work in the stores office where we organise all stores which allow the ship to sustain long periods at sea.

"Our store rooms hold spare parts for everything such as the ship's engines and weapons systems. Some also store oils, greases and lubricants which are used for all different types of maintenance on board."

Meanwhile, RFA Tideforce also provides HMS Dragon with fuel by conducting replenishments at sea (RAS). In one session, the ship can take enough fuel to fill a car 6,500 times. 

AB James Marcer helps co-ordinate the RAS', among other roles on board.

He said: "I also work with the sea boat and driving it is good, it gets you off the ship for a few hours, you get some fresh air and you get to go quite fast - it gets quite exciting.

"Another part of my job on board HMS Dragon is being a quartermaster which means I get to steer the ship. This job is open up to the junior members of the branch so as soon as you come out of training you can find yourself at the helm of a warship.

"It also gives you a varied job role so today I am driving a ship, tomorrow I could be RAS-ing and the next day driving a sea boat."