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Public welcome destroyer to city

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The public were given the chance to walk the decks of one of the world’s most advanced destroyers at the weekend.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Duncan is currently in Belfast, and over the weekend its commender allowed visitors to climb aboard and see the bridge, helicopter hangar and living quarters of the newly-built ship.

Commissioned in Portsmouth, the ship is “twinned” with Belfast; meaning it is the Royal Navy’s honorary representative for the city abroad.

Known as a Type 45 destroyer, she arrived on Saturday morning.

There were pre-arranged tours that day, then a general open day on Sunday from 12 noon until 5pm, with free tickets having been made available via the Visit Belfast tourist centre.

In a statement ahead of yesterday’s open day, Commanding Officer James Stride said he was “hugely proud” to be the first Commanding Officer to bring the vessel to Belfast.

The vessel is docked at Queen’s Island and is due to remain there until Tuesday.

In the meantime, crew members will be playing football and golf matches ashore – including against competitors from the PSNI .

In addition, said Ken Johnston, spokesman for the MoD, crew members had adopted the Northern Ireland Hospice as the ship’s charity.

Today, it is expected a detachment of sailors will pay a visit to its headquarters in Newtownabbey to lend a hand.

“The building needs a lick of paint,” said Mr Johnston.

“So the lads will be getting on their ‘scruffs’ and getting down and dirty”.

He added that the Royal Navy have been “delighted” by the ship’s reception so far.

“The Commanding Officer James Stride has been overwhelmed by the welcome,” he said.

“He’s very chilled, and he’s very happy with it all”.

The Royal Navy describes destroyers as being the “backbone” of the force.

As well as strictly military duties, they are sometime called on to help with humanitarian operations.

For example, Duncan’s sister ship HMS Daring was involved in relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

HMS Duncan was the sixth of the UK’s Type 45 destroyers, which have been described by the MoD as being “the most advanced warships the nation has ever built”.

She is due to sail out of Belfast Lough at around 11am on Tuesday for those wishing to catch a glimpse of her in action.

For a video of her taken over the weekend, go to www.newsletter.co.uk

 

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