UKHMS Diamond fires Sea Viper missile for first time

HMS Dia­mond has proved her fight­ing met­tle by test­ing her mis­sile sys­tem for the first time off the Out­er Hebrides.

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HMS Dia­mond [Pic­ture: LA(Phot) Ben Sut­ton, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The third of the Roy­al Navy’s cut­ting-edge Type 45 destroy­ers blast­ed a Sea Viper mis­sile out of her silo at three times the speed of sound, oblit­er­at­ing the jet drone tar­get in the sky above.

The suc­cess­ful fir­ing of Sea Viper means that HMS Dia­mond is now ready to take her place as a ful­ly oper­a­tional war­ship, capa­ble of deploy­ing any­where across the world.

See Relat­ed Links for a YouTube video of the mis­sile-fir­ing.

Her Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, Com­man­der Ian Clarke, said:

“I am immense­ly proud of what my ship’s com­pa­ny has accom­plished in such a short space of time. Ever since I took com­mand of this ship in 2010 my focus has been to see the ship declared ready for oper­a­tions with­in this time scale.

“Our job when we deploy will be to bring sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty to inter­na­tion­al trade routes and pro­tect our nation’s inter­ests abroad; a job we are now trained and ready to do.”

Sea Viper is a state-of-the-art air defence weapons sys­tem which is a com­bi­na­tion of Aster mis­siles, Samp­son radar (the spin­ning ball on top of the mast), a com­bat and com­mand sys­tem, and the silo on the fore­cas­tle con­tain­ing the Sylver ver­ti­cal mis­sile launch­er.

All of this can destroy a tar­get the size of a crick­et ball trav­el­ling at three times the speed of sound through the air.

In this case, HMS Diamond’s prey was a Mirach drone — a 13-foot (4m) remote-con­trolled jet that can fly at speeds of up to 600mph (966km/h) at alti­tudes as low as 10ft (3m) or as high as 14,000ft (4km) for 90 min­utes.

The suc­cess­ful Sea Viper fir­ing was the cul­mi­na­tion of a busy year for Dia­mond. She was accept­ed into the Navy 11 months ago and is due to deploy lat­er this year — mak­ing her the fastest war­ship in recent mem­o­ry to go from ‘join­ing up’ to deploy­ing.

Along the way the ship’s com­pa­ny has worked tire­less­ly to meet all the strict train­ing require­ments as well as mak­ing sure the ship remains at the high­est state of main­te­nance.

That train­ing was large­ly deliv­ered by staff from the Flag Offi­cer Sea Train­ing organ­i­sa­tion in Ply­mouth.

They test­ed HMS Dia­mond in every­thing she is expect­ed to encounter from skir­mish­es with fast attack craft to high-inten­si­ty con­flict as part of a task group against sus­tained air, sur­face and sub­ma­rine attacks sim­u­lat­ed by real jets, ships and sub­marines.

The ship’s com­pa­ny proved they could deal with these evo­lu­tions, as well as fight­ing fires and floods at the same time. But war-fight­ing is not the only task a mod­ern and ver­sa­tile ship like HMS Dia­mond may be called upon to under­take, so she was assessed on how she dealt with human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tions like dis­as­ter relief and civil­ian evac­u­a­tions.

Her train­ing con­clud­ed last week, tak­ing part in the biggest mil­i­tary exer­cise in Europe so far this year, Joint War­rior.

Dia­mond joined ships from six dif­fer­ent nations, as well as land and air units oper­at­ing in and around west­ern Scot­land, as part of a fic­tion­al task group con­duct­ing peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions in an unsta­ble and volatile envi­ron­ment.

As well as final prepa­ra­tions for her deploy­ment lat­er this spring, the ship’s name means she will also be play­ing an impor­tant role in the Queen’s Dia­mond Jubilee cel­e­bra­tions.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK