Britain’s most advanced warship is enjoying her first foreign port on her maiden deployment as she gears up for seven demanding months east of Suez. HMS Daring is making full use of the NATO ranges at Souda Bay – used by all Royal Navy warships to fine tune ships and ship’s companies before heading to the Middle East.
The NATO base on the Mediterranean island is home to FORACS (FORces sensors and weapons Accuracy Check Site) which tests the myriad of sensors, communications, radars and sonars to ensure they’re in full working order, allowing NATO ships to pass crucial information to each other accurately.
Royal Navy warships have been using the ranges at Souda Bay since 1984.
The NATO complex at Souda is also home to the Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre, whose pièce de resistance is a former Hellenic Navy training ship, the Aris, now used to allow visiting ship’s companies to hone their board and search skills – for board and search will be at the heart of Daring’s seven-month deployment.
The Type 45 destroyer’s RN and Royal Marines boarding team took their training to the next level courtesy of ‘simunition’ – simulated ammunition, which possesses most of the characteristics of the real thing, minus the blood – vessel clearance drills and practising approaching pirate vessels.
As this is Daring’s first tour of duty there’s considerable interest in all the ship does – from a sizeable media turnout (to say nothing of loved ones) when she left Portsmouth earlier this month, to a bevy of high-profile visitors.
Chief among the latter was the head of the Hellenic Navy, Vice Admiral Kosmas Christidis, who belatedly took up an offer made by his British counterpart three years ago to look around Britain’s first Type 45 destroyer.
The admiral and his staff were given a comprehensive tour of the 8,500-tonne warship, as was Cdre The Hon Michael Cochrane, Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla whose responsible for all Pompey-based warships and visits as many as possible on deployment to see how they’re faring and to talk with the ship’s company.
In Daring’s case, she’s fighting fit. Literally. As well as being Britain’s first Type 45 destroyer, crammed with 80 per cent of equipment that’s new to the Royal Navy, she’s also the first to receive the new Spartan Rig (which seems quite apt as she’s in Greece presently…).
The rig is being tested by Daring’s physical training instructor LPT Simon Radford and the ship’s company as part of a trial ahead of a new ‘strength test’ which will be introduced into the Royal Navy in January 2013.
Also on the ‘fit for life’ front, the ship’s football team managed to get ashore for a match against Souda Bay Naval Base.
In an epic confrontation (the ship’s description, not ours) Daring were victorious 2-1.
LS(AWW) Adam Sommerville, one of the goal scorers, said:
“It was a tough match against a well-worked-up side, we were really grateful for the game and it was a good chance to get ashore during the busy programme”.
As for his Commanding Officer Capt Guy Robinson, as well as hosting numerous visitors, he’s been soaking up the Mediterranean ambience.
“It is a great experience to be operating Daring away from UK waters.
“Seeing her silhouetted against the dramatic Cretan skyline is a moving sight and one that the whole ship’s company have been delighted to see.”
Once through Suez, Daring will carry out a wide-ranging mission: maritime security, counter piracy, working with Coalition and regional navies and generally building on the Royal Navy’s long-term efforts to maintain stability in the region.
Naval Today Staff , February 01, 2012; Image: royalnavy