HMS Daring To Start Service In New Year

The Royal Navy's announced its most advanced ship, built with ''stealth'' technology, is due to start operational service in the new year.

Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring has completed four years of sea trials and training and is the first of six new destroyers which will replace the Type 42 vessels which started service in the 1970s.

The vessel, with a crew of 180, will be the first to be built with a futuristic design that makes it difficult to detect using radar.

HMS Daring's commanding officer, Captain Guy Robinson, said:

''I now have absolute confidence in my ship and her crew. I have seen them face the challenges that may be expected of a warship which could be asked to operate anywhere across the globe.

''Recent events in the Mediterranean and Middle East demonstrate just how quickly a crisis can develop. Daring's versatility, reach and punch make her a very credible UK asset - and one that I am proud to command.''

Her sister ships, HMS Dauntless and HMS Diamond, are also due to join the operational fleet next year, while HMS Dragon is still undergoing trials. The further two ships are to be called Duncan and Defender.

All six warships are scheduled to be in service by the middle of the decade.

The Type 45s are armed with hi-tech Sea Viper anti-air missiles and will be able to carry 60 troops. They also have a large flight deck which can accommodate helicopters the size of a Chinook as well as take on board 700 people in the case of a civilian evacuation.

The vessels will contribute a specialist air warfare capability to worldwide maritime and joint operations until 2040.

The last stage of HMS Daring's training was eight weeks of intensive training off the south coast with the Plymouth-based Flag Officer Sea Training (Fost).

HMS Daring carried out exercises simulating hurricane disaster relief, evacuating civilians from a worsening international crisis, dealing with terrorist attacks, attacks involving biological or chemical weapons, fighting off swarms of small attack craft at sea - like those used by Somali pirates - and fending off air attacks.