Meeting aboard HMS Dragon in Portsmouth, Chairman Huw Thomas and Commander Darren Houston RN conclude an Affiliation Agreement between Welsh Motoring Writers and one of the Royal Navy’s latest and most technologically advanced ships.
The 14th Royal Navy vessel to bear the name, the new destroyer reflects a heritage reaching back through some of the greatest years in naval history to 1647 and the first HMS Dragon – a frigate from Chatham’s Royal Dockyard in 1647. At launch in 2008 the latest vessel bore the Red Dragon on her bow – one on each side and held on to them throughout her sea trials last year. As acceptance of the ship from BAE approached however, they had to go despite a (very) determined attempt at retention!
Electric propulsion of ‘power station’ proportions gives the new 8,000 tonne destroyer a range of 7,000 nautical miles and a top speed in excess of 30 knots. The ship’s company amounts to 190 including aircrew and there is room for up to 60 Royal Marines. As with all Type 45s, HMS Dragon’s primary role is air-defence and an array of cutting edge weaponry secures a ‘command and control’ range of 70 miles. The ability the carry marines together with a large flight deck and hanger (it can operate two small helicopters and even land a twin-rotored Chinook) means it has formidable all-round ability. This is all backed up by some of the highest technology yet seen aboard any naval vessel in the world.
Royal Navy ships have a range of affiliation agreements with civic, educational and organisations related to military life or of a social nature. This is the first time a navy ship and a motoring writers’ group has come together in such a way.
Welcoming the new agreement, Commander Darren Houston said: “This marks the start of an exciting and enduring relationship with WMW. We see this friendship as vital in developing the core ethos and spirit of DRAGON and the morale of her personnel at such an early stage in her life. We are delighted that WMW and Vauxhall Motors will share in our success and very much look forward to getting to know each other over the years ahead.”
WMW Chairman Huw Thomas added: “This magnificent ‘ship of the line’ represents a quantum leap in naval capability and there is now a new type of Affiliation to go with it. Apart from providing HMS Dragon with an enhanced network of affiliates in its Home Country, we will establish an annual award for exceptional performance open to all members of the ship’s company. Thanks to the support of Vauxhall Motors we will be able to assist with further aspects of achievement such as charitable or sporting activities by crew members. On a broader front, WMW wanted to support the Royal Navy. The world has entered yet another precarious age, a strong high-tech fleet is key to any credible strategy for security. We need more ships like this.”