HMS Dauntless played a key part in helping to keep the waters off West Africa safe during a major international exercise.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer joined warships and personnel from ten other nations off Senegal for Exercise Saharan Express aimed at dealing with the enduring threats of people trafficking, piracy, drug smuggling and illegal fishing.
Gambian Naval officer Lt Simon Mendy is briefed aboard Dauntless by the Type 45's boarding team. Pictures: LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson, HMS Dauntless
AFRICAN sailors and marines have rushed onboard one of the Royal Navy’s newest ships as they work to improve security at sea.
HMS Dauntless – on her first deployment – was boarded by Gambian, Senegalese and Moroccan personnel during Exercise Saharan Express.
Eleven nations took part in the training, working in the Atlantic off Senegal to tackle the enduring threats of people trafficking, piracy, drug smuggling and illegal fishing.
Lieutenant Simon Mendy, 38, from the Gambian Navy, led his boarding team around the quarterdeck and futuristic bridge of the 8,000-tonne ship.
Moroccan marines board Dauntless off the Senegalese coast
Lt Mendy, from Gambia’s capital Banjul, said: “We’ve really learned from visiting Dauntless and carrying out boarding work.
“The ship’s crew has been very helpful; this is a rare chance for us to see a warship of this size.”
The Type 45 destroyer, which is on her Auriga 12 deployment, was praised by other visiting officers.
French Lieutenant Guillaume Eudeline, 36, from the helicopter carrier Tonnerre (meaning ‘thunder’), said: “It has been a great experience seeing this ship and the technology it has – the radar is very impressive.
“I believe that French and British navies will work together increasingly closely in the future, which can only be a good thing for both of us.”
Dauntless' CO Capt Will Warrender follows the progress of the exercise from his bridge
Dauntless was the most modern ship at Saharan Express, dwarfing the patrol vessels used by West African nations to tackle crime off their shores.
She is the size of a cruiser rather than a destroyer, but can still reach up to 30 knots from a standing start in four times her length.
She and her sisters are the first entirely electric propulsion warships in the world, a design which aims to make her 45 per cent more efficient than the ships she replaces.
Capt William Warrender, Dauntless’ Commanding Officer, said Saharan Express had shown the versatility of the ship.
He said: “We have here a tremendously powerful warship here but also one that can fulfil a range of tasks.
“This exercise is exactly what Auriga 12 is about; we are meeting other navies, working with them to improve their capacity to work effectively, and at the same time continuing to learn more about what this class of ship can do.”
The sun begins to go down on Dauntless off West Africa
From Dauntless’ skipper down to her newest arrival, AB Ryan Skipper, this maiden deployment is a learning curve.
AB Skipper, 18, from Gosport, is finding is way around the ship after just a few weeks onboard.
He said: “For the first few days you don’t really know where you’re going but it has improved, and people have been nice and helpful.
“I keep getting people explaining that there is a lot more space on this ship than the older ones and I’ve visited a Type 23 frigate, so I feel pretty lucky to be here.”