Royal Navy warship HMS Duncan joined forces with a French carrier strike group to support the international fight against Daesh.
The Type 45 destroyer has been providing air defence and escort duties to the FS Charles de Gaulle and her accompanying ships in the eastern Mediterranean over the past few weeks.
French jets have been flying missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the international task force aimed at defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
During her time with the carrier, HMS Duncan’s crew has been using the ship’s sophisticated radar and missile systems to protect the skies over the Mediterranean and safeguard the task force.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said: “The fight against Daesh has been a truly international campaign. HMS Duncan’s crew can be extremely proud of the part they played alongside our allies, destroying the barbarous group that subjugated millions of innocent civilians.
“Due to the tireless efforts of our brave men and women from all three services, we have been able to beat Daesh back, depriving them of territory and making sure that Britain is safer.”
Commander Tom Trent, HMS Duncan’s Commanding Officer, said: “This has been a rewarding opportunity for my team to fulfill HMS Duncan’s core role as a primary air defender protecting a carrier strike group.
“With the Royal Navy’s own aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, getting ready for their first operational deployments this was an excellent chance for us to integrate into the French task group on live operations ahead of the first deployment of our own carrier strike group.
“I am proud of my team for the professionalism they have shown in support of the operation against Daesh.”
Frequent air sorties flown by the French fighter jets provided plenty of opportunity for HMS Duncan’s fighter controllers to test their abilities as aerospace battle managers. They provide tactical control and safety assurances to the Dassault Rafale fighter jets flying from the carrier.
HMS Duncan’s sensors are optimised for air defence. Her cache of Sea Viper missiles, world-beating radars and communication suites provide the ability to defend the skies and protect surface ships and aircraft within the task group.
Lieutenant Francois-Xavier Morel is a French naval officer who has been working on board HMS Duncan since October last year. He is one of three principal warfare officers who lead the ship’s operations team.
He said: “This exchange has been a real education for me. I have enjoyed being a link between our two navies in the build up to working with my own navy’s flagship.”
Throughout the Royal Navy, sailors are provided the opportunity to take up exchange opportunities within other navies. While Lt Morel works on board HMS Duncan, one of the destroyer’s own crew has also swapped places to work in the aircraft carrier.
Lieutenant Luke Thompson is currently embarked in the FS Charles de Gaulle as a fighter controller. He said: “Providing air space control on behalf of the French command team is interesting and highlights how aligned our nations are. Our two navies working so closely together in the Mediterranean shows how much our people and our kit complement each other.”
HMS Duncan’s time with the French aircraft carrier also provided the opportunity for one of the ship’s officers to act as a liaison officer between the two navies. Sub Lieutenant Jack Mercer, one of the ship’s officers of the watch, joined the Charles de Gaulle for a one-week exchange.
He said: “It was a fantastic insight into carrier operations and an invaluable opportunity to experience life on board another nation’s warship. Witnessing HMS Duncan’s contribution to the task force as the Charles de Gaulle launched her jets was impressive.”
HMS Duncan has now concluded her time with the French carrier and continues her deployment until the late summer. She goes on to support other NATO operations in the region as well as foreign engagements in her upcoming port visits.
HMS Duncan is the newest of six highly-capable Type 45 air defence destroyers and one of the most advanced warships in the world. She sails with a ship’s company in excess of 280 personnel.