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HMS Defender returns from Middle East deployment

Defender in the Indian Ocean
HMS Defender returns home to Portsmouth on Friday (July 8) following her nine-month deployment to the Middle East primarily working with American and French Carrier strike groups as part of on-going operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

During her 263 days away from the UK, Defender has visited 19 ports in 11 countries. She has participated in two major international maritime exercises, represented the UK at the International Indian Fleet review, and conducted numerous boarding operations resulting in one major drugs bust, while carrying out her primary role providing air command and control support to two international carrier strike groups in the Gulf.

Last month while working on counter narcotics and counter terrorist operations the Type 45 destroyer intercepted a suspect fishing dhow off the south coast of Oman.

After the dhow was secured by a Royal Marines boarding team with the support of HMS Defender's Lynx helicopter, a Navy search team seized over a tonne of hashish being trafficked across the Indian Ocean. 

The ship has travelled 47,538 nautical miles, the equivalent of going more than twice around the world. To cover this distance, she has used 10,551,000 litres of fuel, enough to fill 4.2 Olympic-size swimming pools.

As Captain, I could not be prouder of the men and women who have worked alongside me over the last 18 months and particularly over the course of this deployment.

Commander Steve Higham, Commanding Officer HMS Defender

It’s not just the ship that requires fuelling.  During the deployment the 248 sailors on board have consumed 75,600 eggs, 19,000 kg of potatoes, or the equivalent of 16 mini Coopers, and 54,720 sausages weighing 3420 kg, which would cover three miles if laid end to end.

Defender has played an important role in furthering UK defence engagement and has hosted five capability demonstrations supporting British industry and defence diplomacy, welcoming a total of 1,400 guests. 

These included VIPs such as the Crown Prince of Bahrain, British ambassadors and defence attachés, as well as numerous representatives from foreign militaries and British industries.

Commanding Officer Steve Higham said: “As Captain, I could not be prouder of the men and women who have worked alongside me over the last 18 months and particularly over the course of this deployment.  

“Every Sailor, Royal Marine, Airman and Soldier who has served in Defender has been bold, confident and extraordinary, confident that what we have done here has made a difference and that we have directly contributed to the national security of the United Kingdom.”

Naval Airman Ayla Mair said: “The deployment has been challenging and really pushed the boundaries of my expectations but, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience.  We have visited so many different countries and our tasking has been extremely varied. 

“I feel that we, as a ship’s company, have a made a real difference.  Although I am really looking forward to seeing my family, a cup of tea and a catch up with my Mum is going to be great!”

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