HMS Defender has left Portsmouth to begin intensive training ahead of her spring deployment alongside aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
After a period of essential maintenance, the Type 45 destroyer departed last week for sea trials and training to ready the crew and its cutting-edge kit for its planned operations in the coming months.
Defender is earmarked to join HMS Queen Elizabeth on her landmark deployment later this year, as part of her Carrier Strike Group.
The deployment will see the group begin patrolling the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.
Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Vince Owen, said: "It is a great feeling to be able to take HMS Defender back to sea after this period alongside for maintenance.
"Despite the additional challenges caused by COVID-19, the achievement of my ship's company, BAE and our other industry partners to be able to return us to sea is hugely impressive and another important milestone in our generation for deployment."
Defender helped HMS Queen Elizabeth form a UK Carrier Strike Group for the first time in October last year while exercising alongside allied nations in the North Sea as part of NATO's Exercise Joint Warrior.
Both Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, require escorts in the form of Carrier Strike Groups when they deploy on operational duties.
The carrier will embark with F-35B jets from 617 Squadron and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters, and will be escorted and supported by Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and support ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Cover image: HMS Defender (Picture: Royal Navy).