HMS DARING- ON BOARD GUERNSEY’S WARSHIP by Richard Harding

HMS Daring is a Type 45 Area Air Defence destroyer based in Portsmouth- the first of six each costing £1 billion now in Royal Navy service the others being Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan. Her Viper Missiles are capable of destroying targets up to 70 miles away. She has a top speed of around 45 knots, is 151 metres long and weighs 8000 tonnes. She is the seventh HMS Daring to hold the name.
Construction work by BAE Systems began on the Clyde in 2003. She was launched in February 2006 and made her maiden visit to Guernsey on 27th January 2009 en route to being commissioned in Portsmouth the following day where she was welcomed to her home port by cheering crowds.
She provided humanitarian relief to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and circumnavigated the globe that during that year and early in 2014. Earlier this year Daring’s crew successfully carried out test firings of Aster 30 missiles.
Daring has a regular company of up to 190, can carry a Royal Marines detachment 60 strong and could handle a far larger number should a humanitarian evacuation be necessary.
The WR21 gas turbine engines that power Daring and the other Type 45’s have recently been upgraded to better cope with the high water temperatures in some parts of the world along with new diesel generators.
She and her company returned recently to her home port after undertaking a tour of duty in the Gulf.
Members of the ships company have taken part in several events including football matches and charity runs while in Guernsey along with meeting Guernsey Sea Cadets.
Thanks to my day job as a presenter and journalist at Island FM I have had the honour of visiting Daring three times on media visits- most recently on her brief stopover in July. I also took advantage of a public visit to return with my partner Bev and her son Matt when we saw a Westland Lynx helicopter. Daring is affiliated to both Guernsey and the City of Birmingham where Bev comes from originally so she was doubly keen to visit the ship.
All my visits to Daring have involved being the same tender the Liberty Lass brought over from Torbay which is specially adapted to access the hatch towards the stern of the ship. The tender runs a regular service between the ship and the cruise liner landing stage on the Albert Pier. There’s usually a bit of swell alongside but once you cross the ramp and step aboard Daring it is incredibly stable. On each media visit I was welcomed along with my fellow journalists and escorted through the maze of hatches and corridors, you have to watch your step with many pipes and hazards. The ships company whizz down flights of steps front-first but I was happy to accept the advice of facing the steps. I glimpsed medical areas, people queuing at the canteen, the mess rooms, the engine room and on two occasions the Opps Room which is from where the missiles are actually fired. I also visited the Captain’s Quarters and the Bridge with its sophisticated navigation systems and commanding views. The commanding officer has his own special seat surrounded by high-tech equipment from where he (so far they have all been male) can direct potentially life and death operations. On my first visit I interviewed Captain Paul Mc Alpine and on the last two occasions Commander Philip Dennis both of whom were friendly, self-depreciating and happy to answer all my questions.
On visits to the island a drinks reception is usually held for around 40 guests followed by dinner for the Lieutenant-Governor, the Bailiff and a small number of other senior figures.
Daring’s visits to Guernsey may only be occasional for operational reasons but her company are proud of the links to the island and we can be proud that our island is linked to the first of the latest generation of warships.

This is an updated version of an article first published in The Townie

 

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