Portsmouth's HMS Defender Sent To Support US Forces

3 October 2014, 13:27 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

The Portsmouth warship HMS Defender's been sent in to support US forces as they carry out air strikes against Islamic State militants.

HMS Defender is using its hi-tech air defence weapons to protect US navy aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and her aircraft as they launch air strikes as part of the international coalition. 

The Portsmouth-based Type-45 destroyer is using its air defence radar and Sea Viper missile system as part of an "umbrella" of support for the Nimitz class aircraft carrier and its escort ships while they patrol the Gulf and launch air strikes against the terrorist group IS. 

Deployed to the Gulf in June 2014, HMS Defender's primary role has been to conduct maritime security operations. It is now operating with the US navy's Arleigh-Burke class destroyers USS Truxton and USS Roosevelt and the Ticonderoga class destroyer USS Philippine Sea to provide support for the aircraft carrier. 

Engaged in round-the-clock operations, HMS Defender's task is to build an accurate air surveillance picture over the whole of the Gulf in order to guard the US aircraft carrier against possible air attack. Royal Navy Commander Phil Nash, Defender's commanding officer, said:

"As an air defence destroyer, HMS Defender was built for exactly the sort of tasking that we are conducting in support of the USS George HW Bush. 

"Since we arrived in the Gulf in June, we have been engaged in exercises with navies from around the world to test our air defence capabilities and I am delighted that my ship's company now have an opportunity to put into practice the training they have received over the past few months. 

"This will be our primary role in the future, so to be able to provide the same defensive shield to a US navy aircraft carrier that we will deliver as part of a British carrier strike group is an excellent chance to prove the value we can add in a national and international environment." 

Commodore Keith Blount, the United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander based in Bahrain, said: 

"HMS Defender is just one of several Royal Navy ships deployed to the Gulf, which demonstrates the importance of the region to the United Kingdom and how much we value the relationships we have with our regional partners and allies. 

The decision by the Government to task a Royal Navy destroyer to support operations against Isil (IS) also shows the United Kingdom's commitment to combat terrorism. 

"The ship's company of HMS Defender can be proud that, in whatever they are doing on board, they are actively contributing to the security of the region and the interests of the United Kingdom." 

The UK has also committed Royal Air Force fighter bombers to carry out reconnaissance missions and air strikes in Iraq.