HMS Defender: How big is it, how many on board, what weapons does it have, why is it near Crimea?

MoD denies incident took place, saying its warship was making ‘innocent passage’ through the Black Sea

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 23 June 2021 17:10 BST

A Russian military ship fired warning shots at a British Navy vessel in the Black Sea after it entered Russia's territorial waters near Crimea, Moscow has claimed.

HMS Defender, launched in December 2009, is the fifth of the Royal Navy's six Type 45 destroyers and is one of the most advanced warships ever advanced, according to the Ministry of Defence.

It weighs 8,500 tonnes, is 152 metres long and has a top speed of 30+ knots.

According to Naval Technology, it is equipped with a 4.5MK8 medium calibre gun, two 30mm medium-calibre gun systems, two Phalanx short-range machine guns, mini-guns, a Sea Viper surface-to-air missile system and Lynx MK8 helicopter weapons system and can accommodate 190 crew.

The Sea Viper missile system provides all-round defence against aerial threats approximately 70 miles away.

Based in Portsmouth, HMS Defender's commander is Vince Owen, who joined the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer in 2000. In 2019 he was selected for promotion to Commander and took charge of Defender in May 2020.

In the middle of May, HMS Defender spent four weeks in the Mediterranean working on Operation Sea Guardian, NATO’s mission in the area to deter and counter terrorism

On June 10, the ship left for the Black Sea via Istanbul.

Describing the ship’s deployment, Commander Owen said: “These first weeks as we have worked with NATO on Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean has shown what a superb asset the Type 45 destroyer is and in particular the ability of the highly-trained men and women we have on board to be able to achieve a range of tasks at short notice.”

Today the MoD responded to the Russian reports , saying no warning shots were fired. Officials in Moscow claimed HMS Defender changed course after the warning shots were fired.

A Su24-M jet also dropped four bombs in its path, the Russian reports claim.

The alleged incident took place in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, near Cape Fiolent in the south of Crimea. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 but this is not recognised internationally.

It was not immediately clear how many crew were onboard when the alleged incident took place.

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