HMS Duncan hosts Royal visitors

HMS Duncan took a break from working with NATO allies in the Mediterranean to host two members of the Royal family.

The Royal Navy warship is part of a task group carrying out security operations at sea and recently spent time with the Italian navy for Exercise Mare Aperto.

Two recent port visits in Croatia and Greece saw her welcome HRH the Earl of Wessex and HRH the Duke of Kent respectively.

The two VIP guests were given tours of the Type 45 destroyer and its Wildcat helicopter, from Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadron.

Before continuing her operations in the Mediterranean, Duncan sailed into Corfu where she welcomed HRH the Duke of Kent.

While alongside, the Portsmouth-based ship replenished her stores and then played host to the Duke, who is President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Lieutenant Jonathan Hamlyn, pilot of Duncan's Wildcat, led a guard of honour for the visit. He said: "A second Royal visit in the same week - I am honoured to have been able to act as the guard in these visits.

"It is also important that we maintain our ability for defence engagement but when it is a UK Royal visiting, it is very special."

It is important we maintain our ability for defence engagement but when it is a UK Royal visiting, it is very special.

Lieutenant Jonathan Hamlyn

The Duke was shown a simulated air defence scenario in the Ops Room, explained by Air Warfare Officer Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson before being shown the Wildcat by Flight Observer Lieutenant Tom Horne.

A few days before, Duncan welcomed HRH the Earl of Wessex, Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, while alongside in Split, Croatia.

The ship also hosted British Ambassador Andew Dalgleish, the Croatian state secretary Zdravko Jakop and Croatian chief of defence General Mirko Sundov.

The guests were given a tour of the ship including the Ops Room and the Wildcat, and heard about Duncan's role in NATO operations including with French and US aircraft carriers.

Lt Cdr Hutchinson, who is responsible for leading the Ops Room team in managing the complicated air battle picture, said: "The ship has been operating with various Carrier Strike Groups throughout the deployment; a fully swept team performing to a high level.

"It was a privilege to be able to showcase this to HRH and explain exactly what the Ops Room - the ship's nerve centre - provides on a daily basis."