The Portsmouth-based warship - hailed by her Commanding Officer as ‘staggeringly capable’ - will spend the next seven months east of Suez, safeguarding sea lanes and working with the UK’s allies in the region.
Eleven years after she was ordered, nine years after the first steel was cut, six years since she was launched into an icy Clyde, and three years after she made her debut in Portsmouth, HMS Daring is ready to maintain the Navy’s long-term presence east of Suez.
Daring is the first of six £1bn Type 45s, four of which have been handed over to the Royal Navy, with three ready for front line duties. She will take over from frigate HMS Argyll on a varied mission that includes tasks ranging from counter-piracy and safeguarding sea lanes to working with the nation’s allies and flying the flag for Britain.
She sails with her 200-plus ship’s company. Her normal complement has been bolstered by a specialist Royal Marines boarding team from the Fleet Protection Group and all those aboard are eager to show off what has been hailed as one of the most advanced warships in the world:
We know that Daring is more capable than anything which has gone to sea before,” said navigator Lieutenant Will Blackett.
This ship was designed for anything - and is ready for anything.
There are mixed emotions of course. We will be away from home for seven months. But there’s also that sense of excitement. I’ve been on board for 20 months, I’ve gone through seeing the ship go from something on trials and training to a warship ready to go. Deployment is the reward for all our effort.
2011 was largely dominated by training, trials and tweaks. The ship fired her Sea Viper - the missile system around which she is built - for the first time off Scotland in May. She was fitted with Phalanx automated guns over the summer, and underwent two months of operational sea training in the autumn.
The latter test, carried out under the auspices of the world-renowned Flag Officer Sea Training organisation, saw the final tick in the box: ready to deploy.
Given current tensions in the Gulf region, questions have been raised in the media about her deployment there. This routine deployment has though been planned for a good six months or more:
As far as the Navy is concerned, this is a routine deployment. To deploy Daring herself for the first time is far from routine of course, taking a ship of this complexity away from the UK for seven months,” said Commanding Officer Captain Guy Robinson.
There’s been a year of hard work getting her ready. Now is the chance to show what we can do. This ship is staggeringly capable - she stands alongside the best in the world.
Daring’s chief caterer, Chief Petty Officer ‘Bill’ Bailey, beginning his first deployment in the surface fleet after a career in submarines, says there’s a ‘great camaraderie on board’:
You step across the brow of Daring and you’re proud to serve in her. That shows all over,” he continued.
These have been exciting times, the build up for this, getting her ready. We’re very aware that we’ll be showing what the ship can do.