HMS Daring eases through first sea trials
By Thomas Harding on HMS Daring
A warship that can defend the entire city of London from missile and aircraft attack successfully completed its first Royal Navy sea trial yesterday.
The £1 billion HMS Daring will become the most advanced warship in the world when it enters service with the Navy in 2009.
The Type-45 destroyer, which is already exceeding targets, will now start taking on board Aster missiles, which are capable of knocking down a cricket ball-sized object travelling at three times the speed of sound.
It is also the most eco-friendly ship ever produced for the Royal Navy, with a unique electric propulsion system that can ferry it from New York and back without refuelling.
The most powerful front-line warship since the Second World War has missiles capable of striking the most advanced "intelligent" anti-ship missiles that can travel at Mach 4.
Daring is crowned by a huge 30-metre high Samson radar that can track more than 1,000 targets at once.
The system is so powerful it can monitor all take-offs and landings from every major European airport within 200 miles of Portsmouth.
The ship can engage 12 air targets and will carry Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Officers claim that if it was stationed in the River Thames, its weapon system would be able to single-handedly
During four weeks of sea trials, Daring has achieved 31.5 knots - exceeding a target of 28 knots.
During final trials off the Western Isles yesterday Daring went through her paces smoothly, watched by the defence minister, Bob Ainsworth.
From a standing start she reached 29 knots in just 70 seconds and can come to a dead halt within 800 yards.
She can turn full circle within three ship lengths and has stealth technology that reduces the radar signature to that of a fishing boat.
"She's a beautiful ship to drive, like a souped-up Bentley with very smooth handling," said Lt-Cdr Phil Harper, the ship's navigator
It can also take 60 Special Forces troops, a large Chinook or Apache attack helicopters as well as Merlin anti-submarine helicopters.
The ship left American visitors to the yard on the Clyde "shaken and shocked", according to BAE Systems, its builders.
In the next 10 years, as many as eight T45s could be built, mainly to defend the two large aircraft carriers that were ordered last month.
T45 Destroyer factfile
Cost: £1 billion.
Official launch: Feb 1, 2006, by the Countess of Wessex.
Expected in service: 2009.
Built by: BAE Systems, Scotstoun, River Clyde
Crew comforts: First warship to include email facilities and iPod charging points.
Size: The height of Nelson’s column. The ship’s 20,000 power cables stretch 400 miles.
Engine: unique eco-friendly electric propulsion system can accelerate ship to 29 knots in just 70 seconds.
Equipment: can take a large Chinook or Apache attack helicopters as well as Merlin anti-submarine helicopters.
Motto: Splendide audax (Finely daring).