The firing exercise took place in almost perfect conditions on a rare hazy summer’s afternoon last week off the west coast of Scotland. It marks the start of an intense work-up period for the Navy’s newest Type 45 destroyer.
Dragon’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Duncan MacRae of the Royal Australian Navy, said:
This was a great demonstration of the capability of a Type 45 and a reassurance of system performance.
I have been involved in a couple of missile shoots but this one was by far and away the most rewarding as I was in the hot seat giving the order to engage.
There were five days allocated to make sure the ship’s company and machinery were ready. On day three the call came to authorise a ‘hot run’ - a real firing exercise.
A target missile was launched which increased the working tension, as sensors and communications circuits were tested to make sure they were functioning properly.
The missile was coming in towards the vicinity of the ship and the command order to ‘take’ the target (the executive order to engage with Sea Viper) was made by Lieutenant Commander MacRae.
But he was only one member of the team that ensured the firing went as planned.
Lieutenant Commander Kevin Miller, Dragon’s Weapons Engineering Officer, said:
The engineering behind the scenes to ensure that the missile accurately reaches the target and destroys it is immense.
The Sea Viper missile itself is just one small component of the Principle Anti Air Missile System that comprises some advanced radars and powerful computers to do all the maths involved in an engagement.
The head of the group, Chief Petty Officer Ian Dryburgh, said:
I am over the moon that it all went according to plan. I had no doubts that it would all go well and the kit performed admirably throughout.
Now all we’ve got to do is scrub off the marks made by the efflux on the top of the missile silo.
Dragon’s Commanding Officer, Commander Darren Houston, said:
What has been particularly pleasing is the way in which everyone on board recognises that they have each played a part in making this happen, from the marine engineers with their efficient power and propulsion through to the logistics team that ensure the equipment receives all the stores support available.
This firing is but a small step on Dragon’s road to deployment next year and the team have worked really hard to get us where we are today.
Portsmouth-based HMS Dragon is now undertaking maritime security operations and has a visit to Northern Ireland planned during a break from an intensive testing period. After the summer the ship will team up with Flag Officer Sea Training off the south west coast of England before advanced training with a French carrier battle group.