HMS Duncan prepares for front-line operations

HMS Duncan is back at sea after a major overhaul that primes the Type 45 destroyer for the next five years at the sharp end of naval operations.

The cutting-edge warship left her home of Portsmouth on Sunday for the first time since November 2019 and is now in the waters off the South Coast putting her revamped equipment and systems through a series of comprehensive trials, and her sailors through intensive training.

The destroyer spent six rigorous years deployed across the Mediterranean, Middle East and Black Sea before spending 30 months undergoing her upgrade at the hands of specialists from BAE Systems, the MOD’s Defence, Equipment and Support organizations and the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Naval Base.

Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Martin, hailed his ship’s return to sea.

“This is a significant event in the life of HMS Duncan as she continues her journey back to front line operations,” he said.

“This has only been possible due to the strong relationship between BAE Systems, DE&S, our industrial partners and the Royal Navy.

“I am immensely proud of the sailors of HMS Duncan and what they have achieved so far; it is a real honour to lead such a capable, enthusiastic and professional team.”

Major changes were made to the pipework that provides cooling for the propulsion and high voltage equipment on board the cutting-edge air defence destroyer.

Her rudders were replaced and new software was installed, while the distinctive spherical radar system that sits atop the destroyer’s foremast was completed refurbished.

The powerful radar is one of the centerpieces of the Type 45 destroyer, providing the warship with the ability to detect and track hundreds of targets at once.

The refit also saw a further 40 upgrades across systems, including enhancements to the satellite communications equipment, the installation of the latest radar that helps identify targets (known as Identification Friend of Foe) and updates to the IT kit used aboard.

All remaining equipment has been checked and tested by experts to ensure it is ready for the stresses and strains of another five years on the front line.

Among the 207 sailors aboard Duncan, there are many who are going to sea for the first time in their naval careers, including Able Rating Kayleigh Hearn, the youngest member of the crew.

“It is really exciting to be going to sea and putting into practice everything we have learned over the past few months,” she said.

“Bringing a ship out of refit is really challenging but also hugely rewarding.”

HMS Duncan will spend the next few weeks off the South Coast conducting sea training and putting her equipment through a comprehensive series of trials, but will be back alongside in Portsmouth periodically during this phase.

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