The fifth of Britain's Type 45 destroyers is getting closer to being taken into operational service after completing her second period of sea trials off Scotland.
HMS Defender spent nearly a month off the Scottish coast testing her combat systems and sensors ahead of her impending handover to the Royal Navy and is now in the final weeks of trials and tests on the Clyde as she prepares to join her sisters in Portsmouth.
Defender put to sea for her first sea trials last autumn, sailing two years to the day of her launch, to test the basics - engines, power and manoeuvrability.
As with those inaugural trials, Defender’s second trials period saw a mixed crew from her builders BAE Systems, plus the growing band of Royal Navy personnel assigned to her, to give the ship a thorough run-out.
After a few sea safety trials, which all went well, the ship quickly knuckled down to manoeuvring and power and propulsion trials before the crux of the renewed spell at sea: combat systems.
The team aboard attuned all the various weapons and sensor sub-systems to the main command system - the brains of Defender where all the information is fused to give the operations room team the complete picture.
Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Pearce said:
It is a great privilege to be serving as the Weapon Engineer Officer in HMS Defender, these trials marked another significant step to not only acceptance of the ship by the Royal Navy but success on operations in the future.
Defender boasts extremely impressive capability throughout her decks which was tuned to optimum performance over the trials period.
The ship is affiliated to Glasgow and Exeter and her second time at sea gave her mixed BAE Systems and Royal Navy ship’s company the chance to help out good causes in those cities.
Horse racing nights, an Ironman athletics competition, bingo and quizzes helped raise £1,500 for Kelbourne School for physically-impaired youngsters in Glasgow, Dream-a-Way Holidays in Exeter which organises holidays for people in the West Country with disabilities, and BAE’s favoured charity, Erskine Hospital.
Defender also hosted her first VIP sea day where she welcomed the destroyer’s sponsor, Lady Julie Massey, who launched the ship on Trafalgar Day 2009, as well as the great and the good from industry and the MOD’s maritime defence procurement team.
HMS Defender continues to hit every milestone towards her delivery to Portsmouth and the Royal Navy in July.
She’s due to be declared operational in early 2013, by which time the final ship in the Type 45 programme, HMS Duncan, will have made her debut at sea. She’s in the latter stages of fitting out at Scotstoun and sails later this year on her first trials.