£650m Navy warship arrives in Portsmouth

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The Royal Navy's newest warship, built at a cost of £650 million, sailed into its home port for the first time today.

HMS Daring, the world's most advanced destroyer, was officially handed over to the navy last month after work was completed at the BVT Surface Fleet's Scotstoun shipyard on the Clyde, Scotland.

The 7,350-tonne ship will be the first of the Royal Navy's series of six Type 45 destroyers.

Daring was met at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, by a 15-gun salute as well as by families and friends of the ship's company.

Hundreds of members of public also lined the harbour walls to welcome the ship.

The ship features the latest propulsion, anti-aircraft weapon and stealth technology.

The Type 45 destroyers have nearly twice the range - about 7,000 miles - and are 45% more fuel-efficient than the Type 42 destroyers they are replacing in the £6 billion project.

It is capable of sailing 3,000 nautical miles, operating for three days and returning home without the need to refuel.

The ships are to be armed with a new hi-tech missile system renamed today as the "Sea Viper", formerly known as the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (Paams).

The Sea Viper system, in conjunction with the ship's Sampson Radar system, is capable of tracking hundreds of targets as far as 250 miles away and engaging up to 10 of them simultaneously.

Daring can operate various helicopters, including the Chinook, embark 60 Royal Marines and is able to accommodate up to 700 people as part of an emergency evacuation.

It has a crew of 191 and generates enough electricity from its gas and diesel engines to power a city the size of Leicester.

The ship has been fitted with improved accommodation for ratings include larger bed spaces and less beds per room than previous destroyers.

Daring was launched from BVT's facility in Scotstoun by the Countess of Wessex in January 2006.

Since then it has undergone three sets of contractor sea trials.

It will now undertake an intensive sea trials programme for the rest of the year, with a formal commissioning ceremony due to take place in the summer with a target of formal acceptance into service by late 2010.

A flypast by Royal Navy and RAF aircraft took place as Daring entered Portsmouth Harbour.

Quentin Davies, minister for defence equipment and support said: "HMS Daring is one of the most advanced ships ever built and along with the five other Type 45s will be one of the essential pillars of the Royal Navy in the 21st century.

"Today is a special day for the Royal Navy, the city of Portsmouth and her dockyard, the crew of HMS Daring and all those involved in building her, as one of the most powerful warships in the world enters her home port for the first time.

"It is with great pride that I have been able to witness the first arrival of HMS Daring into Portsmouth today."

Defending placing such a large investment into a single warship, Mr Davies added: "This is a very flexible warship and I can see her as being of immense use to the defence of the nation in a variety of scenarios.

"She is not a one-trick pony, she is the opposite of that."

Speaking of the missile system, Mr Davies said: "The newly named Sea Viper, a world-leading missile system will allow the ship to detect her prey, target it and issue a deadly strike."

Daring's commanding officer Captain Paul Bennett added: "Daring is a good-looking, large capability platform. She is an illustration of the talent and capability of British shipbuilding.

"Today provides a fitting opportunity to mark the first entry into Portsmouth of a new class of destroyer for over 30 years.

"It's been a fantastic event to mark the passage of this great warship into her home port and we look forward to a successful year of sea trials before embarking on operations."