UK — Destroyers Dragon and Defender take to the sea for trials

Two of Britain’s lat­est state-of-the-art destroy­ers have tak­en to the sea to fur­ther test their capa­bil­i­ties before ini­tial deploy­ments.

Drag­on test fires one of her decoy flares [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Drag­on left a trail of smoke and fire off Port­land as she test­ed her decoy flares for the first time dur­ing her inten­sive tri­als and train­ing pack­age. Mean­while Defend­er left the BAE Sys­tems yard on the Clyde on Fri­day for 28 days of tests and tri­als in the waters off west­ern Scotland. 

On the south coast, Drag­on, the fourth of the Navy’s six Type 45 destroy­ers, has been work­ing with mil­i­tary sci­en­tists to test her weapons and defen­sive systems. 

The Portsmouth-based war­ship used the ranges off Port­land Bill, with a team from the Defence Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry — the MOD’s in-house sci­en­tists — ashore mon­i­tor­ing the destroyer’s radar cross-sec­tion and infrared char­ac­ter­is­tics as she fired off her decoy flares. 

The dis­tinc­tive angu­lar nature of the Dar­ing Class is designed to min­imise the ‘blip’ the ships pro­duce on an ene­my radar screen and sug­gest that, instead of an 8,500-tonne war­ship bristling with weapon­ry, the tar­get is an innocu­ous small­er vessel. 

This angu­lar shape, cou­pled with the Sea Viper mis­sile sys­tem, which can take out incom­ing mis­siles and air­craft at ranges of up to 75 miles (120km) away, give it world-lead­ing defen­sive capabilities. 

Lead­ing Sea­man Wayne Fugatt, who was the load­ing team leader for the tri­als, said: 

“It was my first time as lead­ing hand in charge of a fir­ing serial. 

“It’s a unique expe­ri­ence to be involved in tak­ing a war­ship as capa­ble as this out of build and up to her first decoy fir­ing. It fills me with con­fi­dence that we’ve the right kit to do the job when it matters.” 

Mean­while, 450 miles (724km) north a mixed crew of Roy­al Navy and BAE Sys­tems per­son­nel are build­ing on what was accom­plished dur­ing Defender’s first tri­als last autumn, car­ry­ing out final test­ing of the ship’s pow­er and propul­sion and com­bat sys­tems, and nav­i­ga­tion­al and com­mu­ni­ca­tions equipment. 

Defend­er makes her way slow­ly down the Clyde with a tug to guide her [Pic­ture: Cour­tesy of BAE Sys­tems 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

If all goes well on this sec­ond ‘work­out’, the £1bn destroy­er will be for­mal­ly hand­ed over to the Roy­al Navy this summer: 

“Defender’s depar­ture on her sec­ond set of sea tri­als marks anoth­er mile­stone in the life of the ship and her com­pa­ny as we pre­pare to join the fleet lat­er this year,” said the destroyer’s senior naval offi­cer Com­man­der Nicholas Boyd. 

“We are look­ing for­ward to oper­at­ing her sophis­ti­cat­ed equip­ment and sys­tems dur­ing tri­als and beyond, putting our expe­ri­ence and train­ing into practice.” 

As well as the ardu­ous task of fit­ting and test­ing the thou­sands of com­po­nents and sys­tems, Defend­er has used her time on the Clyde to begin to forge rela­tion­ships with her affil­i­ates, notably the cities of Glas­gow and Exeter. 

Upon her return to Scot­stoun next month, Defend­er will under­go three months of final test­ing and check­ing of her sys­tems before sail­ing to her home for the next 30-plus years, Portsmouth, in July to join the bulk of the Type 45 fleet. 

As for Defender’s and Dragon’s four sis­ters, Dar­ing is deployed and Daunt­less and Dia­mond will do so lat­er this year. 

The final ship in the six-strong class, Dun­can, is in the lat­ter stages of com­ple­tion at Scot­stoun and will head to sea for the first time towards the end of the year. 

She’s due to be hand­ed over to the Roy­al Navy before the end of 2013, bring­ing the cur­tain down on a decade’s con­struc­tion on the Type 45 project. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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