Footage from a documentary showed the moment HMS Duncan was swarmed by 17 Russian jets as she led a NATO fleet through the Black Sea earlier this year.
The footage formed part of a four-part Channel 5 documentary called Warship: Life at Sea. This documentary premiered on the 26th of November at 9pm (GMT) on Channel 5, more information on the documentary can be found here.
For those wanting a quick peak, excerpts of the footage can be found here.
First reported by The News, Portsmouth, the action is understood to have taken place 30 miles off the coast of Crimea and is the closest any British Royal Navy warship has come since Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014.
Commodore Mike Utley, who was leading the NATO task force from Duncan earlier this year, was reported as saying:
“HMS Duncan is probably the only maritime asset that has seen a raid of that magnitude in the last 25 years.”
HMS Duncan, a Type 45 Destroyer, can hold 48 missiles.
According to Tom Cotterill, a journalist at The News, Portsmouth:
“The Russian pilots were flying so dangerously close to Duncan’s high-powered radar system that their jets’ electronics could have been scrambled, causing the planes to crash – and potentially sparking a major international incident.”
Before the incident HMS Duncan sailed through the Bosphorus Straight and into the Black Sea, a move described by Russian media as a ‘clear provocation’.
HMS Duncan was leading Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), what NATO call an ‘Immediate Reaction Force’. The destroyer left Portsmouth Naval Base in early January to resume the role after a three-month stint in charge last year, she arrived back home in Portsmouth last week.
The purpose of the exercise the vessel was involved in was, according to NATO, ‘to test naval forces from more than half a dozen nations and their ability to safeguard Black Sea shores and shipping lanes’.
SNMG2 is a ‘multinational, integrated maritime force’ – made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team – that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions.
Last year, HMS Duncan visited the Ukrainian port of Odessa in the first visit by a Royal Navy ship in eight years.
The Type 45 destroyer is one of the most advanced air-defence vessels in the world. So powerful is the vessels SAMPSON radar, that from the shipyard on the Clyde where the vessel was built, it could monitor the air traffic over the entirety of Scotland and northern England.
The US Naval War College has suggested that the SAMPSON radar is capable of tracking 1,000 objects the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound
The UK’s National Audit Office reported that, during an ‘intensive attack’, a single Type 45 could simultaneously track, engage and destroy more targets than five Type 42 destroyers operating together.