PHOTOS: UK’s Type 45 destroyer back on front-line duties after major overhaul

The Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless has completed a large-scale exercise off the coast of Colombia – marking a return to full front-line action after a major overhaul.

HMS Dauntless has deployed to the Caribbean Sea to counter drugs smugglers alongside the US Coast Guard and provide support and reassurance to British Overseas Territories during the region’s hurricane season from June to November.

Kicking off the deployment, Dauntless – which returns to action fitted with brand new efficient engines – took part in the world’s longest-running multinational military drills, sailing into Cartagena in Colombia for Exercise Unitas.

The Type 45 destroyer’s presence – Dauntless was participating in its second Unitas (the first was in 2012) – shows the UK’s commitment to the deepening relationship with Colombia, which is the only Latin American country to be a NATO partner nation.

The ship’s Wildcat from 815 Naval Air Squadron was in the thick of the action carrying Sting Ray light torpedoes, hunting down submarines and simulating attacks.

Assisted by HMS Dauntless’ powerful array of sensors and a US Navy P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the Wildcat showed its prowess in anti-submarine warfare.

It was a major step forward with the Wildcat fitted with new weapon wings – which can hold a variety of armaments for use on a range of targets – as it proves its ability to hunt and destroy submarines and ships, according to the navy.

In all 26 ships, three submarines, 25 aircraft and around 7,000 sailors and marines from 20 countries were involved in Unitas, which took place off the coast of Cartagena, as Colombia’s navy celebrated its 200th anniversary.

Alongside the UK, participating nations included Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Spain, South Korea, United States, and Uruguay.

The task group took part in warfare operations, including firing weapons and amphibious landings, while Dauntless operated in her main role as air defence destroyer.

Dauntless now heads for Caribbean patrols with a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment, Royal Marines sniper team and the Wildcat helicopter on board – making it suitably equipped to counter illicit trafficking activity.

The destroyer is also on standby to provide humanitarian and disaster relief.