Britain’s most advanced warship, HMS Daring, reunited with the world’s most famous aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, as they spent five days on patrol east of Suez.
It’s the second time the two vessels have linked up – but the first on operations.
Enterprise is on her final deployment after 51 years of active service, while Daring is at the beginning of her 25 to 30-year career.
Enterprise abounds with superlatives – longest warship in the world, longest serving carrier in the world, world’s first nuclear-powered carrier and, arguably, the world’s most famous active warship.
Daring isn’t quite in the same league. She is Britain’s most advanced surface ship and possibly the most advanced destroyer in the world. And she can splat (technical term) a target the size of tennis ball coming towards her at three times the speed of sound.
Anyway, enough of superlatives.
The two ships joined forces for a passex – ‘passing exercise’ – a test of friendly navies to work together from the basics of manoeuvres and simple communications to more demanding integration such as air defence.
As well as the Big E and the Big D, there was the Smaller C (French destroyer FS Cassard, similar to the Royal Navy’s Type 42s) and the Big V (cruiser USS Vicksburg, part of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group) for the five-day exercise.
For two of those days Daring was directly under the control of Enterprise, taking part in her forte of air defence, plus a spot of gunnery as well as anti-submarine warfare (which is a bit of a novelty for the Type 45).
Back in the autumn of 2010, Daring helped the Big E complete her pre-deployment training during what the Americans call a COMPTUEX (Composite Training Unit Exercise) – a sort of US Navy combination of Operational Sea Training and Joint Warrior.
That exercise – Daring’s first trip across the Pond – proved eye-opening on both sides.
It gave Daring the first real chance to test her ability to defend a carrier strike group from incoming air attack as well as co-ordinate Allied air power – something she and her sisters will be doing at the end of this decade with our own HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.
And it gave the Americans a glimpse into the future – they’re building their own futuristic-looking destroyers, the Zumwalts, which take the Type 45’s sharp angles and lines to extremes.
Eighteen months down the line and two more US flat-tops have worked with Daring – the Abraham Lincoln and Carl Vinson – so knowledge of what the 45s can do is spreading through the US Navy while, in turn, D32 is gaining a wealth of experience working with the world’s most powerful naval force: an American carrier strike group.
“Carrier Strike Group 12, centred on Enterprise, is the third Strike Group Daring has worked with on this deployment,” said Daring’s Commanding Officer Capt Guy Robinson.
“This now seems like routine business for me but, nonetheless, a chance to work with this iconic ship has been a real pleasure. I jumped at the chance to get onboard in the knowledge that this would be my last opportunity.
“With Daring on her first deployment and Enterprise on her last, it was great chance to get these two well-known ships working together.”
Daring’ anti air warfare officer, Lt Cdr Luke Hayashi, added:
“We worked with Enterprise in October 2010 when Daring did her short deployment to the States.
“It was great to see some familiar faces and to re-kindle the good relationships we established back then.
“This is Enterprise’s last ever deployment before she is deactivated, and to be able to work with her on operations in the Gulf was a real privilege.”
Daring is half-way through her maiden deployment, attached to the Combined Maritime Forces on a wide-ranging security mission – tackling piracy, smuggling, people-trafficking, terrorism and other criminal activities – as well as working with Coalition and regional allies.
Naval Today Staff , May 29, 2012; Image: Royal Navy