HMS Defender heads on intensive training ahead of global carrier deployment

HMS Defender has sailed from Portsmouth today for intensive training to prepare for missions around the world this spring on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s landmark deployment.

The Type 45 destroyer departs for sea trials and training to ready the ship’s cutting-edge kit and crew for a busy year on operations after a period of essential maintenance.

Defender is earmarked for upcoming missions in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group 21 mission.

Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Vince Owen, said: “It is a great feeling to be able to take HMS Defender back to sea after this period alongside for maintenance.

“Despite the additional challenges caused by COVID-19, the achievement of my ship’s company, BAE and our other industry partners to be able to return us to sea is hugely impressive and another important milestone in our generation for deployment.” 

Engineering Technician (CIS) Tom Longley said: “Having been alongside since October it will be great to go to sea and get back into the swing of things. I’m really looking forward to deploying later this year.”

Defender worked closely with HMS Queen Elizabeth late last year on the Carrier Strike Group workout in the North Sea in preparation for operations. 

Alongside sister ship HMS Diamond, plus Type 23 frigates and warships from NATO allies, Defender formed the ring of steel around the aircraft carrier that is designed to protect the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers from enemy ships, submarines, aircraft and missiles, but are also capable of conducting a range of supporting missions, from maritime security to disaster relief.

The Type 45 then headed for extensive top-to-bottom maintenance ahead of a busy 2021, including capability upgrades being fitted, a fresh coat of paint and routine upkeep on the exterior of the state-of-the-art multifunction radar, which required a massive 80 tonnes of scaffolding to access it. 

Defender also went into dry dock so the ship’s underwater fixtures could be maintained.

While the ship was readied for deployment, the crew remained busy, taking part in the digital Exercise Virtual Warrior alongside sailors from HMS Queen Elizabeth. 

Virtual Warrior saw crew and battle staff play out a simulated crisis at HMS Collingwood to test the carrier and her task force.

While not being able to visit in person, Defender was also able to speak to many of its affiliates in Exeter and Glasgow, with virtual meetings held between the ship and the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Peter Holland; Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club; Exeter College; and Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Councillor Philip Braat.

 

It is a great feeling to be able to take HMS Defender back to sea after this period alongside for maintenance.

Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Vince Owen