The Royal Navy’s reputation and history inspires and encourages young people the world over – so whilst alongside in Dubai HMS Dragon welcomed youngsters from a local scout unit.
The select group of 16 scouts, guides and youth leaders from the Ismaili Aga Khan Scouts and Guides received a bespoke tour of the ship while she was undergoing routine mid-deployment maintenance.
Set up by the Royal Navy Liaison Officer for the Gulf Region, Commander Mark Stuttard, following a visit to the Ismaili Centre Dubai, the group enjoyed a unique insight into what goes on onboard a next-generation Royal Navy destroyer.
HMS Dragon is currently deployed to the Gulf where she is ensuring the security of international waters, and forging ties with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Aga Khan Scouts and Guides routinely participate in community events such as the Dubai Terry Fox Run and Clean-up Campaigns. Established in 1983 by the Ismaili Community in Dubai, it is currently based at the Ismaili Centre Dubai (ICD) – a representation of the commitment of the Ismaili community to the cultural, social, educational and economic development of the wider community.
The children were treated to demonstrations on the bridge, as well as in the Operations Room, where they were introduced to all the weapons and sensors that make Dragon such an effective all-round air defence ship, and the Main Machinery Control Room.
The bridge was also a highlight of the tour, with the Captain’s red leather Rolls Royce chair a major attraction. Questions from the inquisitive children came thick and fast and Lt Helen Oliphant, one of Dragon’s four Officers of the Watch, was on hand to answer them.
Helen’s role as one of the core bridge team members means that she is responsible for maintaining safe navigation and acts as the ‘eyes’ of the ship.
She said “The enthusiasm shown by the group was amazing, with lots of questions about how we operate and if the technology onboard made our jobs any easier.
“Our training, from an early stage in the careers of the crew, enables us to conduct operations with or without the support of technology, and the Type 45 is made up of a lot of aids to help us be efficient in what we do.”
Shaliza Panjwani, one of the Guides, expressed her admiration for the ship.
She said: “This visit was phenomenal as it allowed me to glimpse into the lives of individuals who spend a major portion of their lives on the sea. Coming aboard HMS Dragon was like entering a new world – a world quite unknown to me.”
Scout Leader Zishan Iqbal added: “It was a mesmerizing experience and I am thoroughly impressed by the hard work put in by everyone aboard the ship. If I could go back in time, I would have surely leaned towards such a thrilling profession.”
HMS Dragon continues to maintain a presence in the Gulf region, supporting British interests in the region and working closely with International navies to maintain Freedom of Navigation in International Waters.
Press Release, August 1, 2013; Image: Royal Navy