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Defender in the Indian Ocean

Defender in the Indian Ocean
3 February 2016
HMS Defender’s helicopter ‘Joanna’ has been holding training drills in the middle of the Indian Ocean as the destroyer makes her way towards the port of Visakhapatnam in India.

The Portsmouth-based warship is one of two dozen vessels from the navies of the world attending the Indian International Fleet Review, which formally opens on Friday, reaches its climax on Saturday with the review itself and closes on Monday.

More than 70 warships are taking part in the review off the east coast port with the country’s president Pranab Mukherjee inspecting the six lines of vessels from a patrol ship over a three-hour period on Saturday morning.

The review is also the swansong for the world’s oldest operational aircraft carrier – INS Viraat – which served as the flagship of the Royal Navy’s Falklands task force back in 1982 before being sold to India three years later.

More than 70 warships are taking part in the review off the east coast port

Defender’s visit to India will allow the oldest member of her ship’s company – 54-year-old marine engineer CPO Conrad Walker – the chance to say farewell to the veteran carrier; he twice served in her at the beginning of his Royal Navy career.

As for his current ship, Defender’s participation in the fleet review comes hot on the heels of supporting air strikes against Daesh in Syria and Iraq as she took her place in the carrier battle groups of the FS Charles de Gaulle and USS Harry S Truman operating in the Gulf.

After a short visit to the Omani capital Muscat, the destroyer began the 2,600-mile journey to Visakhapatnam across the Indian Ocean and into the Bay of Bengal.

During the early stages of the crossing, Defender conducted joint counter-terrorism and counter-smuggling work with the French frigate FS Provence.

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