HMS Diamond Joins Royal Navy Fleet

Hundreds of crew members and their families have attended a ''Christening'' ceremony to welcome the Royal Navy's latest and most advanced warship to the fleet.

HMS Diamond, the third of six new Type 45 destroyers, was commissioned at the event at its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base.

Principal guests at the ceremony were Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, the commander-in-chief fleet, and Lady Johns, the ship's sponsor who launched the ship at BAE Systems' Govan shipyard on the River Clyde in November 2007.

The ship's 190-strong crew and their families also attended the event on Friday May the 6th.

Lady Johns inspected some of the crew on parade and also the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, HMS Collingwood, which provided a musical accompaniment to the event.

During the hour-long ceremony, HMS Diamond's commanding officer (CO), Commander Ian Clarke, read a commissioning warrant and the ceremony was rounded off in traditional Royal Navy fashion by cutting a commissioning cake.

Performing the honour were the CO's wife, Joanne, and Engineering Technician Ross Hindmarch, aged 17 and the youngest member of the ship's company.

Cdr Clarke said: ''This is a proud moment for all on board HMS Diamond. As she nears the end of her trials phase, this ceremony marks our transition to front line service. Thereafter, the emphasis will be on combat readiness in preparation for our first deployment next year.

''I'm thrilled that so many families, friends and affiliates, some from overseas, were part of our momentous day.''

Defence secretary Dr Liam Fox said in a statement:

''The Type 45 programme is an example of how we are investing in capabilities for the future. This ceremony marks another step in the delivery of six of the most powerful air defence destroyers every built for the Royal Navy. These new ships will provide the UK with a world-class military capability that will form a key part of the Future Force 2020.''

HMS Diamond is the third of six Type 45 destroyers being built for the Royal Navy, all of which will be based in Portsmouth. The first, HMS Daring, was commissioned in July 2009, followed by HMS Dauntless in June last year. The fourth, HMS Dragon, is due to arrive in Portsmouth for the first time in September.

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

A navy spokesman said:

''The Type 45 Destroyer is the largest and most powerful air defence destroyer ever built for the Royal Navy.

He added:

''The prime role of the Type 45 Destroyer will be air defence, protecting UK national and allied-coalition forces against enemy aircraft and missiles.''

The Type 45s are armed with the high-tech Sea Viper anti-air missiles and will also be able to embark 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 navy spokesman added:

''In addition to its world-class air defence capability, one of the Type 45's greatest assets is its versatility. The Type 45 will be able to act as a base platform for a deployable headquarters, from where operations can be commanded. This will result in an improvement in our expeditionary capability.''