As HMS Dragon patrols the Eastern Mediterranean her Lynx helicopter breathes fire into the sunset sky with a stunning array of decoy flares.
This powerful image of Royal Naval capability – both sea and air – was captured by Leading Photographer David Jenkins, the current Royal Navy Photographer of the year.
One of the Navy’s newest Type 45 destroyers, HMS Dragon has arrived back from the Gulf and is now in the Eastern Med, patrolling UK sovereign base areas and taking part in locally based exercises.
LPhot Jenkins said: “There are times when you take plenty of pictures and have very little to show for them. The images taken that night were as a result of some careful planning and good fortune. What is rewarding for me is that the crew are pleased with the picture because it represents the capability that HMS Dragon delivers on a daily basis.”
As well as flying her own Lynx helicopter – of 815 Naval Air Squadron based in Yeovilton – Dragon has been flexing muscle as part of joint training with Typhoons from her affiliated 6 Squadron RAF.
Holding various flying exercises with 11 Squadron, based at RAF Conningsby, and Boeing E3-Ds from 8 Squadron based at RAF Waddington, Dragon also exchanged personnel for the RAF to experience life on a ship and vice versa.
The air defence exercises were part of the ship adapting to their new environment in the Med – having been in the Gulf for four months – presenting a different set of challenges for the air defence teams.
As well as working with the RAF, HMS Dragon has welcomed Army colleagues on board in the form of 54 Squadron, 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, based in Marchwood, Southampton.
The logistics personnel ensured the exercises were entirely uninterrupted by smoothly dealing with the delivery of vital stores, victuals and other important issues, such as official and personal mail.
Lieutenant Commander Andy Bray, HMS Dragon’s Logistics Officer, said: “It has been impressive to see all of the team pull together to help support HMS Dragon on operations, be they from the RAF or the Army’s very own mariners from the Port and Maritime section of the Royal Logistics Corps. Working together has meant that we can stay at sea, on task, for longer and this has helped directly the ship’s company to do our job.”
He added, “A simple task like delivering operational mail, fresh provisions and vital spares, with novel approaches to embarkation, cannot be understated, and improves the lives of all Dragon’s sailors.”