Warship Welcomed To Fleet in Portsmouth

Hundreds of people have attended a ceremony to welcome the Royal Navy's newest warship into the fleet.

The colourful "christening'' ceremony for the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender was held at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The 190-strong crew lined the quayside for the event, which was attended by the ship's sponsor, Lady Julie Massey, and Vice Admiral Philip Jones, commander of the Royal Navy fleet.

Another guest was Captain Michael Rawlinson, who was the last commanding officer of the previous HMS Defender between August 1968 and September 1969.

Representatives from the ship's affiliate cities of Exeter and Glasgow also attended.

The crowds gave three cheers to celebrate the air defence destroyer's official place in the fleet.

Commander Phillip Nash, Defender's current commanding officer (CO), said: "The commissioning of HMS Defender is a hugely significant day in this state-of-the-art warship's life - it marks the point at which building and testing the ship finishes and frontline service in the fleet begins.

"It is also important to recognise that for the 190 women and men that make up my ship's company, this day of commissioning represents the culmination of months and years of hard work of training, trials and practice focused on ensuring that Defender is ready to undertake operations around the world whenever tasked.

"We are extremely proud of our achievement and would like to thank our partners in British shipbuilding industries for their assistance in reaching this goal."

During the ceremony, Cdr Nash read a commissioning warrant which was followed by the Royal Navy tradition of the cutting of a commissioning cake.

This was performed by the CO's wife, Rebecca, along with the youngest member of the ship's company, Engineering Technician (Marine Engineer) Stephen Smith, who is serving on the ship alongside his older sister Able Seaman (Logistics) Samantha Smith.

HMS Defender is the fifth of five new Type 45 destroyers entering the naval fleet.

Its sister ship HMS Dragon set sail on Tuesday for its maiden deployment of a counter-piracy mission in the Middle East and the final destroyer, HMS Duncan, is due to arrive in Portsmouth for the first time tomorrow  having just been released from the Govan shipyard in Glasgow.