HMS Defender has marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Heligoland Bight while on her maiden deployment to the Gulf.
In a poignant service led by Chaplain Michael Meachin, the entire ship’s company of the Type 45 destroyer mustered to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.
HMS Defender is the eighth ship named Defender to be commissioned. The fifth vessel to bear the name was an Acheron-class destroyer launched 100 years prior to her successor and commissioned in 1912. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, she and her sisters formed the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the Grand Fleet.
On August 28, 1914, superior Royal Navy forces attempted to wipe out enemy cruisers and destroyer’s in the latter’s ‘back yard’ – the Heligoland Bight, just a couple of dozen miles from the German mainland.
For the cost of 35 dead, the British force sank three German cruisers, two torpedo boats and the destroyer V187.
The latter found herself trapped by eight Royal Navy destroyers, including HMS Defender, which stopped to pick up survivors when the German ship sank.
HMS Defender earned battle honours for her actions that day – marked on a wooden board which hangs outside the cabin of the Commanding Officer on today’s Type 45 destroyer.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Phil Nash said: “Today is a poignant day of remembrance for the Royal Navy.
“HMS Defender has a significant list of battle honours and today we take time to remember the first of those.”
HMS Defender continues her patrols whilst on operational deployment in the Gulf and is due to return to the UK in December.
Press Release, August 29, 2014; Image: UK Navy