UK: HMS Diamond Receives the Highest Praise from World’s Most Famous Aircraft Carrier

HMS Diamond Receives the Highest Praise From World’s Most Famous Aircraft Carrier

Britain’s most advanced warship HMS Diamond received the highest praise from the world’s most famous aircraft carrier as she joined forces with the mighty USS Enterprise in the Middle East. The Type 45 destroyer was invited to join the Big E and her carrier strike group to show what the Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art warship can bring to their Allies.

Now that’s a sight worth seeing. On the bridge wing of HMS Diamond, officers watch the world’s most famous aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise.

And at the same time in the state-of-the-art destroyer’s operations room, warfare specialists were doing exactly the same, helping to choreograph the sorties of F18 Super Hornets and other aircraft which provide the punch of Carrier Strike Group 12.

As her sister Daring did just a few months ago, Diamond joined forces with the Big E to show how a Type 45 destroyer can shield a task group from air attack – exactly what she was built for.

The £1bn warship can track multiple targets courtesy of her Sampson radar (the spiky spinning egg on the top of the distinctive main mast) and take them out, if necessary, at ranges up to 70 miles away courtesy of the Sea Viper missiles in the silo on her forecastle.

And she can also direct strike missions by guiding aircraft on to targets as well as generally co-ordinating friendly air activity.

The Portsmouth-based warship took her place alongside Enterprise’s more usual escorts, the cruiser Vicksburg and the destroyer Nitze, and as well as providing more distant protection, D34 also closed in to just 500 yards from the Enterprise – which is the longest warship in the world, longest serving carrier in the world and the world’s first nuclear-powered carrier – giving the ship’s company a ‘ringside seat’ to flat-top operations.

The Big E’s air wing really is impressive: four Hornet squadrons of fighters and fighter-bombers (43 jets), four Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, four E2 Hawkeye AWACs early-warning planes, seven Seahawk helicopters capable of hunting submarines as well as general duties, and two propeller-driven transport planes. Sixty aircraft in all.

Diamond’s crew observed as the Hornets were catapulted off the deck of Enterprise and, when their missions were complete, touch down safely, brought to a halt by arrestor wires.

Being in close proximity to the Enterprise group allowed for an exchange of US and UK sailors – known in international naval circles as cross-pollination – sharing knowledge and experience among the ships.

“Working with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group has been a fantastic opportunity to build on Royal and US Navy understanding. The knowledge gleaned will help the Royal Navy maximise the exciting opportunities offered by the Type 45 destroyers,” said Lt Cdr Mark Headley, Diamond’s air warfare officer who hosted the American visitors on the British ship.

Chief among those visitors was Rear Admiral Walter Carter, the man in charge of Carrier Strike Group 12. He liked what he saw aboard Diamond during a comprehensive tour of the 8,500-ton warship, and what her ship’s company did during the destroyer’s time in company with the Big E.

He sent a signal to Diamond’s Commanding Officer Cdr Ian Clarke:

“Bravo Zulu to HMS Diamond on an outstanding performance. You have integrated brilliantly and I am looking forward to working with you again in Carrier Strike Group 12.”

The USS Enterprise is in the final months of her active life (her first major mission was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962!) and is due to decommission in December.

As for Diamond, she’s resumed her maiden deployment duties providing security and stability in the Gulf region.

For that wider maritime security mission the Portsmouth-based warship carries a Royal Marines team from 43 Commando and members of the Diamond’s own company who specialise in boarding operations– a task which can put them in harm’s way.

To prepare them for every eventuality, the combined boarding team undergoes weekly first aid training courtesy of the medical team and the impressive sickbay facilities.

Every week a different topic is covered – anything from minor accidents while undertaking normal duties to injuries that could be sustained during boarding operations. The team are coached through scenarios and then offered the chance to critique one another’s performance.

The most recent test? How to insert intravenous drips to administer potentially life-saving fluids. Next week’s lesson will see the teams get to grips with techniques to control a patient’s airway and the treatment of chest injuries.

“This invaluable training instils the confidence within the Royal Marine and Royal Navy Boarding Team that every member is able to effectively carry out life saving treatment,” said Capt Richard Hughes RM in charge of the commando detachment aboard Diamond.

Naval Today Staff, August 16, 2012; Image: Royal Navy