Following commissioning in May this year, HMS Diamond, one of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 advanced air defence destroyers, has entered service following extensive sea trials, the MOD announced today.
The vessel's capability is based around the sophisticated Sea Viper missile defence system, which is capable of tracking and defending against multiple supersonic targets simultaneously, backed by long and short range radar and missile systems that can operate over distances in excess of 400km.
She can embark 60 troops and their equipment, supported by a modern medical facility that can deliver a surgical capability. She could also carry up to 700 people to support a civilian evacuation.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said:
"I'm delighted to welcome the latest in this superb class of warship into the fleet, in what is another significant milestone in this hugely important project.
"These highly capable Type 45 destroyers will form an integral part of Future Force 2020 and will allow the Royal Navy to meet the demands placed on them."
The 7,000-tonne warship, launched on the Clyde in 2007, is one of six new Type 45 destroyers being built, the largest and most powerful ships of their kind ever ordered for the Royal Navy.
Commander Ian Clarke, HMS Diamond's Commanding Officer, said:
"This marks HMS Diamond's formal transition to operations just nine months since leaving the builder's yard.
"The ship's company is rightly pleased to have reached this milestone and is now focused firmly on the forthcoming period of intense combat training in preparation for our first deployment.
"Itching to get onto a more operational footing, HMS Diamond will soon be at immediate notice to respond to world events and bring influence wherever it is needed."
With HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless already in service, and the other ships at various stages of completion, the handover of HMS Diamond represents the halfway point in this key naval equipment programme.
The ship will now undertake training in preparation for her first operational deployment in a few months' time.
All the Type 45s will be based in Portsmouth. The first, HMS Daring, was commissioned in July 2009, followed by HMS Dauntless in June last year.
The fourth, Dragon, is due to arrive in Portsmouth for the first time in September 2011. All six are scheduled to be in service by the middle of the decade.