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T45 Back at Sea and Proving Her Warfighting Credentials

After a week alongside spent catching up with maintenance as well as some defect rectification we are back at sea.  The week in Portsmouth allowed us to settle into our new base port, to face-to-face with the support agencies that answer our requests for help and, even, for some, some leave. We sailed in good shape with all machinery in proper working order.  We proved it of course, by sprinting across to Portland, testing everything to its full extent …..not quite the gently running in period that we might do with our cars.  We do indeed stop in 5 ship lengths from full ahead to full astern!

The week was focused on electronic warfare, the ability of the Ship to detect radar emissions from other platforms.  In addition, we were measuring our radar cross section (how stealthy is T45?), proving our ability to launch decoys, both rockets that deploy chaff to distract missiles and aircraft radars and floating decoys to confuse missile heads.  All extremely technical but vital elements of DARING’s warfighting arsenal.  Just as important for me, it allowed us to brush up our skills in firing ordnance safely and to throw the Ship around. 

At the same time, we have been preparing for the next test of the Ship and her Company - Preliminary Sea Training.  This is a 2 week period of training conducted by the Staff of the Flag Officer Sea Training, a world-renowned training staff that put all UK Ships and many warships from other nations through their paces (Find out more about FOST here - http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.3682).  It does require the Ship to be presented well and so we undertook the first full clean before Captain’s rounds last Friday.  Some tired, but proud sailors presented over 700 compartments to me, the First Lieutenant and the Weapons Engineer Officer last Friday over a 2.5 hour period.  No white gloves, but plenty of looking into corners and ensuring the Ship was secure and ready for training.  The bulk of the training will be focused on our ability to undertake all peacetime operations safely and effectively.  We even practice dealing with a major collision – a sobering thought, but an exercise that will test the Ship’s Company to the full.  So as I write this on Sunday evening, there is a sense of trepidation.  I am sure we will do well and everyone is up for the challenge…but whenever you expose yourself to external scrutiny, there is always that nagging doubt. 

I’ll let you know how we got on.

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Photo of Paul Bennett Paul Bennett

(Currently: Moving Onboard HMS DARING)

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