Portsmouth Welcomes New Warship

A ''Christening'' ceremony will be held today to welcome the Royal Navy's latest and most-advanced warship to the fleet.

HMS Diamond, the third of six new Type 45 destroyers, is to be commissioned at the event at its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.

Hundreds of guests, including the families of the 190-strong ship's company, will attend the ceremony along with Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, the commander-in-chief fleet, and Lady Johns, the ship's sponsor.

Lady Johns, who launched the ship at BAE Systems' Govan shipyard on the River Clyde in November 2007, will inspect some of the crew on parade and also the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, HMS Collingwood, which will provide musical accompaniment for the hour-long ceremony.

HMS Diamond's Commanding Officer (CO), Commander Ian Clarke, will read a commissioning warrant and the ceremony will be rounded off in traditional Royal Navy fashion with the cutting of a commissioning cake.

Performing the honour will be the CO's wife, Joanne, and Engineering Technician Ross Hindmarch, aged 17, who is the youngest member of the ship's company.

HMS Diamond is the third of six Type 45 destroyers being built for the Royal Navy, all of which are to be based at Portsmouth.

The first, HMS Daring, was commissioned in July 2009, followed by HMS Dauntless in June last year.

The fourth, HMS Dragon, is due to arrive in Portsmouth for the first time in September.

All six are scheduled to be in service by the middle of the decade.

A navy spokesman said:

''The Type 45 Destroyer is the largest and most powerful Air Defence Destroyer ever built for the Royal Navy.

''It will provide UK Defence with a world-class military capability.

''The prime role of the Type 45 Destroyer will be air defence, protecting UK national and allied/coalition forces against enemy aircraft and missiles.''

The Type 45s are armed with the hi-tech Sea Viper anti-air missiles and will also be able to embark up to 60 troops.

The destroyers also have a large flight deck that can accommodate helicopters up to the size of a Chinook as well as take on board up to 700 people in the case of a civilian evacuation.

The navy spokesman added:

 ''In addition to its world class air defence capability, one of the Type 45's greatest assets is its versatility.

''The Type 45 will be able to act as a base platform for a deployable headquarters, from where operations can be commanded. This will result in an improvement in our expeditionary capability.''