HMS Dauntless today sailed from Portsmouth on her maiden deployment, bound for the South Atlantic.
A sizeable crowd gathered on Round Tower – while national and international media recorded the ship’s departure which comes 30 years to the week of the Falklands conflict.
Pictures: LA(Phot) Maxine Davies, FRPU East
SHE’S big, she’s grey, she’s coming your way.
Well, if your way is South Atlantic, then she is.
The second of Britain’s next-generation destroyers today began her maiden deployment as HMS Dauntless departed Portsmouth on a bright but chilly spring morning.
The Type 45 destroyer – the most advanced warship in the Royal Navy’s inventory – is heading for six months in the South Atlantic, taking over from the current patrol ship, Devonport-based frigate HMS Montrose.
There was a sizeable crowd crammed on to Round Tower with flags and good luck banners to witness Dauntless’ departure just after 10am, while a flotilla of yachts and tugs bobbed around the harbour entrance.
Given the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict this very week and well-reported tensions between London and Buenos Aires over the islands’ future, there was also considerable media interest in Dauntless’ departure – it was broadcast live by the BBC while a couple of helicopters buzzed around overhead (including one from Sky News).
Despite such interest and not a little wild speculation in Fleet Street, Dauntless’ maiden deployment is a routine stint south of the equator.
She will maintain a continuous presence protecting British interests in the region, carrying out maritime security operations off West Africa and the wider South Atlantic.
Her programme includes planned port visits in both West and South Africa. It’s the first operational deployment for Dauntless since she was commissioned into the fleet in 2010. Since then she has been put through an intensive period of sea trials and training to prepare her for operations.
“HMS Dauntless’ ship’s company has been working extremely hard over the last year or so to prepare for our first operational deployment,” said Capt Will Warrender, D33’s Commanding Officer.
"We are now ready to provide a reassuring presence in the region and protect British interests.”
Two of the three operational Type 45 destroyers are now deployed on operations; HMS Daring is currently in the Gulf. HMS Diamond will deploy in the early summer, while HMS Dragon will be formally declared ‘in service’ later this month.
The fifth Type 45, HMS Defender, arrives in Portsmouth later this year, while the final ship in the £6bn programme, HMS Duncan, is lined up for her first trials before the end of 2012.