On her maiden deployment, HMS Daring has worked with not one but two US Carrier Strike Groups - USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln.
HMS Daring, the first of six cutting-edge Type 45 destroyers, has been exercising with both 100,000-tonne carriers as she integrates with the UK’s closest allies.
That integration has taken the form of swapping sailors with several American ships, notably cruisers USS Cape St George and Bunker Hill, as well as the two carriers, allowing the two navies to share expertise and ideas and forge good working relationships.
The Carl Vinson leads US Carrier Strike Group One, while the Abraham Lincoln is the flagship of Group Nine; there are 11 such groups in all, each comprising one carrier, one cruiser, two destroyers, one hunter-killer submarine and a support ship, plus an air group of more than 60 jets, helicopters and piston-engined aircraft.
The culmination of this effort was HMS Daring working fully with the Carl Vinson and her impressive air wing of fast jets.
Daring’s Sampson radar and command and control system allow multiple targets to be tracked over ranges of up to hundreds of kilometres. That information is fed to the Aster missiles in the silo on the ship’s forecastle.
With her long-range radar, Daring can track many thousands of air contacts, giving her unprecedented surveillance of huge areas of airspace.
These capabilities make Daring a valuable asset for a US Carrier Strike Group, providing a comprehensive air picture of the complex Gulf airspace:
Working with the US carriers and their air wings is the culmination of many months of training and hard work for the ship’s company,” explained Lieutenant David Berry, one of two fighter controllers aboard Daring.
For me, this is the pinnacle of my fighter controlling career and it is truly amazing to watch it all come together in this operational theatre. Taking control of F-18 Super Hornets in this busy operational environment is hugely rewarding.
Daring is attached to the Combined Maritime Forces on a wide-ranging maritime security mission tackling piracy, smuggling, people-trafficking, terrorism and other criminal activities, as well as working with coalition and regional allies.
Daring’s not the only Royal Navy vessel to link up with a US Carrier Group. In the Arabian Sea - outside the Gulf - the Abraham Lincoln joined forces with Britain’s ‘capital ship’, HMS Westminster.
The Portsmouth-based frigate is also on a maritime security patrol of waters east of Suez, while the Abraham Lincoln is conducting both that mission and supporting operations in Afghanistan.