The HMS Defender is a British warship that made headlines in June 2021, when it sailed near the coast of Crimea, a disputed territory that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The incident sparked a tense standoff between the two countries, with Russia claiming that it fired warning shots and dropped bombs to deter the ship, and Britain denying that any shots were fired and saying that the ship was conducting a routine passage through international waters.
But what makes the HMS Defender so special, and why did it provoke such a strong reaction from Russia? In this blog post, we will explore the features and capabilities of this strange looking ship, and the geopolitical context behind its controversial voyage.
The HMS Defender is one of the six Daring-class air-defense destroyers that are part of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 program. These ships are designed to provide air and missile defense for the British fleet, as well as escort and support other naval assets. They are equipped with the Sea Viper missile system, which can track and engage multiple targets at ranges of up to 400 km, using the Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. The Sea Viper system also includes the SAMPSON radar, which is mounted on a distinctive mast above the ship’s bridge. This radar can rotate at 60 rpm, providing a 360-degree coverage of the airspace around the ship.
The HMS Defender also has other weapons and sensors, such as a 4.5-inch main gun, two 30 mm cannons, two Phalanx close-in weapon systems, four machine guns, eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and a helicopter hangar and flight deck that can accommodate a Merlin or a Wildcat helicopter. The ship has a displacement of 8,500 tonnes, a length of 152.4 meters, a beam of 21.2 meters, and a draught of 7.4 meters. It can reach a speed of over 30 knots, and has a complement of 190 crew members.
The HMS Defender was commissioned in March 2013, and is the fifth ship of its class. It is based in Portsmouth, and has participated in various operations and exercises, such as Operation Shader against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, Operation Kipion in the Persian Gulf, and Exercise Joint Warrior in the North Atlantic. In May 2021, the HMS Defender joined the UK Carrier Strike Group, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth…