HMS Duncan heading for NATO exercises after major overhaul
The Portsmouth-based ship waved goodbye to UK waters having completed five weeks of Basic Operational Sea Training (BOST) off the south coast.
The Type 45 destroyer is in Toulon to take part in a French-led exercise alongside NATO allies.
Having been put through their paces by the teams at Fleet Operational Standards and Training (FOST) – who prepare Royal Navy warships for front-line duties – the crew are now readying the ship to step it up another gear.
Where FOST developed the ability for Duncan to fight as a ship, Exercise Orion in the Mediterranean will test her ability to operate with allies as part of a large task group.
The past five weeks have seen a gradual increase in training tempo with Duncan moving from basic safety at sea to Thursday Wars, war-fighting and damage control exercises, and a simulation of a major collision at sea.
Now those skills will be put into practice with the added complexity of operating in consort with ships of multiple nations, including Germany, Spain, Italy and the USA.
Commander Ben Martin, Duncan’s Commanding Officer, said: “This is a really important step in Duncan’s journey towards becoming fully operational this year; it will challenge the team but we will prove our ability to operate with NATO partners in high intensity operations.”
Having completed a major refit, involving the installation of new sensors, propulsion machinery overhauls and many gallons of paint, HMS Duncan is reaching the end of the regeneration process and is ready for the challenges of Ex Orion.
Billed as France’s “biggest ever war game”, the exercise will involve 7,000 sailors and aircrew with naval manoeuvres in the Mediterranean and an amphibious operation in southern France.
Duncan’s sailors are looking forward to taking part and to hone the skills learnt at BOST.
For many of the sailors on board, this will be the first time operating outside UK waters.
Engineer Technician Davis Fowler the youngest and newest member of the team. His first day on board was a Thursday War.
“It’s a steep learning curve but I couldn’t have asked for more from my first time at sea,” he said.