Royal Navy’s newest destroyer HMS Duncan conducts gunnery shoot

HMS Duncan (D37), the Royal Navy’s sixth (and final) Type 45 destroyer, conducts her first gunnery shoot. Twelve of these destroyers were originally planned (as one-for-one replacement for the Type 42). The number was cut to 8 in 2003 and to 6 in 2006.

Duncan blazes fire and steel during destroyer’s first gunnery shoot

Britain’s final Type 45 destroyer fired up her guns for the first time with sustained period of shooting off the Dorset gun.

Every one of the Portsmouth-based warship guns was fired – from her hand-held General Purpose Machine-Guns and Miniguns, through the 30mm automated cannon and the main 4.5in which can hurl a 40kg high-explosive shell more than a dozen miles.

Pictures: Lt Cdr Ryan Wallace and PO(AWT) David Lowe

With a flash of fire exploding from the muzzle, a shell leaves the main gun of new destroyer HMS Duncan for the first time.

Over the past few weeks Britain’s sixth and final Type 45 destroyer has been testing her advanced gunnery systems off the Dorset coast – the first occasion when she’s truly proven she’s a warship.

Every one of the Portsmouth-based warship’s guns was fired from her hand-held General Purpose Machine-Guns and Miniguns, through the 30mm automated cannon and the ‘crowdpleaser’, Duncan’s 4.5in main gun which can hurl a 40kg high-explosive shell more than a dozen miles.

After arriving in her home base for the first time in March and commissioning in September, Duncan – named after the Scottish admiral who decisively beat the Dutch Fleet at Camperdown in 1797 – has been preparing to join her five sisters on the front-line.

A 30mm shell casing falls away during the automated gun’s aerial target shoot

The first four Type 45s have carried out deployments – twice in the case of HMS Daring – while HMS Defender is due to sail on operations for the first time next year.

Key to any of those deployments is the ability of the guns to provide accurate and effective firepower – hence several days on the ranges in the Channel for what’s known as Sea Acceptance Trials (Gunnery).

In Duncan’s spacious, hi-tech operations room Lt Tuijo ‘TJ’ Thompson – a Royal New Zealand Navy officer on exchange – the ship’s principal warfare officer took charge, ensuring the destroyer was is in a safe position to operate the weaponry and fire it at selected targets.

ET(WE)s Richard Edge and Adam Matthews remove the 4-5in muzzle cover

In support of any firings by the 4.5in ‘Kryten’ (so named for its angular casing resembles the Red Dwarf character of the same name) PO ‘Daz’ Hickling, the captain of the turret, sat in the gunbay beneath the weapon overseeing the safe loading and operation of the main gun as it hammered away.

Duncan was making use of the ranges off Weymouth, run by 148 Battery Royal Artillery, an Army Commando unit who help to target the guns of the Fleet in times of war such as Libya and Iraq.

“They were very impressed by the ship’s display of Naval Gunfire Support, stating it was the best they had seen in years – not bad for Duncan’s first effort under the White Ensign,” said Cdr James Stride, the destroyer’s Commanding Officer.

POET(WE) Daz Hickling in the Captain of the Turret seat overseeing the 4.5in shoot

The 30mm cannon shoot proved particularly successful – Duncan became the first Type 45 destroyer to successfully engage an aerial towed target.

Just for good measure, the machine-guns and Minigun (a manually-operated Gatling Gun) were flashed up under the supervision of experienced gunner PO(AWW) Jamie Phillips.

“By proving that her various guns work as they were designed to do, Duncan will now be able to go on to support operations worldwide by providing Naval Gunfire Support to forces ashore, engaging surface targets that pose a threat, and play a part in defending the ship from air attack,” Cdr Stride added.

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