June 10, 2021 – HMS Defender has completed NATO security operations in the Mediterranean and will be heading to the Black Sea after a stop in Istanbul.
The Type 45 destroyer is part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group but has peeled away from the task group temporarily to carry out her own set of missions in the Black Sea.
Over the past few weeks Portsmouth-based Defender completed intensive training and worked on Operation Sea Guardian, NATO’s mission in the Mediterranean to deter and counter terrorism.
Defender is now in Istanbul with Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen – which is also part of the Carrier Strike Group – and will be hosting representatives from the Turkish government, business world, armed forces and defence sector during her stay there.
Commanding Officer, Commander Vincent Owen said: “After over 12 months of preparations with the added challenges of COVID-19, it is fantastic to have sailed and started deployment as part of the UK Carrier Strike Group.
“These first weeks as we have worked with NATO on Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean has shown what a superb asset the Type 45 destroyer is and in particular the ability of the highly-trained men and women we have on board to be able to achieve a range of tasks at short notice.
“We are all very proud to be part of this milestone deployment showcasing Global Britain and the UK Carrier Strike capability, we are ready for whatever tasking we are called to deliver.”
Defender’s deployment so far has been mainly focused on her work in the Carrier Strike Group, in which she forms part of the ‘ring of steel’ – including frigates, submarines, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and aircraft – around carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden operational deployment.
After hitting heavy weather crossing of the Bay of Biscay, Defender’s ship’s company carried out a number of training drills to test their responses, including man overboard exercises and firing of the 50 calibre heavy machine gun.
Defender then sailed through the Messina Strait – between Sicily and the Italian mainland – before the embarked 815 Naval Air Squadron Wildcat helicopter simulated a crash on deck.
Overseen by the Flight Commander, Lieutenant Mark Finnie, sailors helped in firefighting, first aid, treatment and casualty extraction as the mock crash unfolded.
He said: “Safety critical exercises like this prove the ship’s efficiency to work as a coherent team in difficult situations and find solutions to sometimes taxing problems. The scenario here which was a simulated helicopter crash, takes everyone on board to assist.”
After a month at sea, Defender then stopped off in Crete, heading for NATO’s Forces Sensor and Weapon Accuracy Check Site, which is used for calibration of sensors, weapons, communications and navigation systems.
Sailors and Royal Marines of HMS Defender’s boarding team also headed for the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Centre at Souda Bay Naval Base, where they refreshed some key skills.
Defender’s boarding officer Lieutenant Cameron Osborn Royal Navy, said: “The four days using the extensive experience and excellent facilities at the NATO MIOTC were very useful consolidation training.
“It allowed our Royal Navy and Royal Marine boarding teams to build on their own training in a realistic environment to make sure we are fully prepared if we are required to board vessels during deployment.”