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VISIT TO HMS DEFENDER, HM NAVAL BASE, PORTSMOUTH
Thursday 20 June 2013

Proud to be British!

Every so often a Section event comes along that is rather special. I suspected that the visit to HMS Defender on Thursday 20 June was going to be one such occasion and I was not disappointed!

Meeting in the car park at the gate of Portsmouth Naval Base, our fourteen Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars were escorted by the police through the docks to HMS Defender, the Navy's latest Type 45 Destroyer, where we parked alongside the ship. This ship has to be seen to be believed! First of all it doesn't have any portholes being a bit like a stealth aeroplane. It cost £1 billion and only has a crew of 190 and, just to give you an idea of its size, it weighs 8,000 tonnes - more than the Blackpool Tower, and is 152 metres long. Its fuel tanks are half the size of an Olympic swimming pool so it has a range of 7,000 nautical miles and it generates enough electricity to power a town of 8,000 people.

On boarding the ship and, after a brief talk by the Captain, our tour included the Bridge, the Operations Room (no photographs allowed here), one of the guns on deck, the Viper Air Defence System and the Medical Room. The Operations Room is another wonder of the world with innumerable screens allowing the ship to gain every bit of information it could possibly want and, to help get this information to the right people, there are 404 telephones on board! The Sampson radar System that Defender has allows it to track an object the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound! If, say, sixteen missiles were being fired at the ship its Sea Viper Air Defence System can take them all out at the same time. Pretty impressive eh?

Construction on the ship started in July 2006. It was launched in 2009 and spent another two years being fitted out. After various trials it was finally commissioned in March this year making it the fifth of six Type 45 ships ordered for the Navy. (So £6bn for six ships, and now you know where some of your taxes go!).

At the end of the tour we had tea and cakes in the Officers' Mess where Captain Philip Nash presented the section with the Ship's crest mounted on wood and the section in turn presented two Rolls-Royce decanters to the Captain. When they will be used is another thing as I believe the ship has a no drinking and no smoking policy!

At the conclusion of the visit photographs were taken of the cars alongside the Defender and then it was off to the Bosham Inn for lunch.

A splendid day and it's good to know Britain can still produce the goods!

Ben Grew - Section Member


Members' motor cars parked in front of HMS Defender
Members' motor cars parked in front of HMS Defender at HM Naval Base, Portsmouth.
Club members
Club members photographed with the Captain and two of the Ship's company.
Chris Tween's Rolls-Royce   Bridge of the ship
Chris Tween's Rolls-Royce - one of thirteen members' cars parked alongside HMS Defender.     A visit to the bridge of the ship. Photos: Ian Burt