HMS Defender to exercise Freedom of City for first time
12th March 2014
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The state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyer is affiliated with the Devon city and has been enormously honoured to have Freedom conferred on her.

The 200 men and women who serve on board Defender will take part in a ceremony in the High Street, when the The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Rachel Lyons, will formally confer the Freedom of the City on the ship’s company.

The crew will then take to the streets of the historic city and, with bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying, will proudly parade through the heart of Exeter.

On Friday evening, 10 members of the ship’s crew will be honoured to dine as guests of the Lord Mayor of Exeter at the Guildhall

These 10 will be joined by the remaining 190 members of the ship’s company the next morning (Saturday March 15) to mark the historic milestone of HMS Defender’s first Freedom parade in her adopted city.

The mood will be one of immense pride as the ship’s company forms up at 11.15am at Bampfylde Street Car Park where the parade, led by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines from Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, will step off, bearing right into Cheeke Street, Sidwell Street and the High Street, before halting at the junction with Bedford Street for the official ceremony.
There, the ship’s company will be inspected by Flag Officer Sea Training, Rear Admiral Ben Key, the Lord Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Sir Eric Dancer.

The Lord Mayor will then give a short address and present the ceremonial Freedom of the City scroll to HMS Defender’s Commanding Officer, Commander Philip Nash, who will respond on behalf of the ship’s company. The parade moves off with the Lord Mayor, Lord Lieutenant and HMS Defender’s Commanding Officer taking the salute at the Guildhall.

A special informal reception for the ship’s company will be held afterward in the White Ensign Club, where they will celebrate with the traditional fayre of a pasty and a pint.

“HMS Defender is humbled to have had the Freedom of the City of Exeter conferred and we march this weekend for the first time,” said Commander Nash. “It is with particular pride that the ship’s company will parade through the streets of Exeter on this occasion, marking this historic milestone in the early history of our exceptional ship.

“I am honoured to be able to present my officers and sailors to the Lord Mayor and other gathered dignitaries.

“A freedom parade is a very special moment in any ship’s affiliation and we couldn’t be more proud to exercise this honour in our adopted city, with which we already have a close bond.

“I hope that local people may also find time to come along and support their ship, as we prepare for our maiden deployment in June this year, following an intense period of sea training.”

Lord Mayor, Councillor Rachel Lyons, said: “It is with immense pleasure and pride that I shall be presiding over the latest in this city’s long tradition of having links with the Royal Navy by conferring the Freedom of the City on this ancient and loyal city’s latest affiliated ship, HMS Defender.

“This very much follows along the lines of the strong and close links the city had with HMS Exeter in its many guises. I am sure that the strengthening of the links between our two organisations today, will ensure that the important relationship between city and ship will continue for many years to come.”

Destroyers are part of the backbone of the Royal Navy, committed around the world 365 days a year hunting pirates, drug runners or submarines, defending the Fleet from air attack, and providing humanitarian aid after natural disasters – indeed HMS Defender’s sister, HMS Daring, was recently involved in relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

HMS Defender is the fifth of Britain’s six Type 45 destroyers which are the most advanced warships the nation has ever built. Their mission is to shield the Fleet from air attack using the state-of-the-art Sea Viper missile system.

The Type 45 shield the fleet from air attack using the Sea Viper missile which can knock targets out of the sky up to 70 miles away if necessary and can also be used as general-purpose warships; they have large flight decks to accommodate helicopters up to the size of a Chinook. There’s enough space on board to host a Royal Marines detachment up to 30-men strong.

As for the ship’s company, they enjoy ‘creature comforts’ only dreamed of by their forebears: no sailor lives in a mess square for more than six people and there are no communal heads (toilets) or showers.

HMS Defender was accepted into the Fleet in March 2013.

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Dave B

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