During 18 days at sea, the ship will embark on an extensive programme of trials, including final testing of the vessel’s combat, navigational and communications systems.
Angus Holt, UK Programmes Director at BAE Systems’ Surface Ships division, said: “The significant progress which continues to be made on the Type 45 programme demonstrates our pride and commitment to delivering these highly capable vessels to the Royal Navy.
“Working alongside our industry partners and the Royal Navy, we look forward to building on the success of Dragon’s first stage trials and undertaking the final stages of commissioning as we prepare for the ship’s handover and Acceptance off Contract.”
Dragon completed her first stage trials in December of last year, when her power and propulsion systems, auxiliary and domestic services were successfully demonstrated. The latest trials period is designed to test the ship’s combat systems, navigational and communications equipment. On completion, Dragon will return to the Clyde before setting sail for her home port of Portsmouth in August.
With three ships already commissioned into service with the Royal Navy, BAE Systems is well over half way through the programme to deliver all six Type 45 destroyers by early 2013. Defender, the fifth vessel in the class is currently undergoing final stages of outfit and will head to sea for the first time later this year, while outfit and commissioning continues on Duncan, the sixth in class, following her launch in October 2010.
As Class Output Manager for the fleet, BAE Systems also provides in-service support to the Type 45 destroyers. Working side by side with the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Naval Base, the Company’s engineers coordinate all aspects of repair, maintenance and support to improve ship availability and reduce through life support costs.
The Type 45s will provide the backbone of the UK’s naval air defences for the next 30 years and beyond. The destroyers will be capable of carrying out a wide range of operations, including anti-piracy and anti-smuggling activities, disaster-relief work and surveillance operations as well as high intensity war fighting.
Each destroyer will be able to engage a large number of targets simultaneously, and defend aircraft carriers or groups of ships, such as an amphibious landing force, against the strongest future threats from the air. The vessels will contribute a specialist air warfare capability to worldwide maritime and joint operations until 2040.
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