HMS Dragon (Picture: MOD).
The Royal Navy's top destroyer and drug buster have joined forces for the first time on operations at sea.
Sister ships HMS Duncan and HMS Dragon linked up in the eastern Mediterranean for security patrols.
To mark the occasion, the former launched her Wildcat helicopter.
HMS Dragon is due back in Portsmouth soon after the most successful drugs-busting patrol by any British warship in the Middle East.
HMS Dragon's sailors and Royal Marines have snared illegal narcotics worth around £200m across eight busts.
In all, it totalled more drugs seized than by police forces in the UK last year.
HMS Dragon is now doing a mixture of flag-flying for Britain, having completed her mission east of Suez.
Three days spent in Beirut included time demonstrating diving and fire-fighting training, whilst also allowing the 220 men and women on board to sample the sights of Barcelona, before being reunited with loved ones on her return to the Solent.
HMS Duncan meanwhile – the youngest of six Type 45 destroyers built to shield the fleet from aircraft and missile attacks – has just sailed from Portsmouth for a six-month stint in the Mediterranean region.
Following a pit-stop in Gibraltar, HMS Duncan has joined an international task group of France's flagship FS Charles de Gaulle and her key deployment of the year.
It is HMS Duncan’s task to safeguard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and work seamlessly with her Rafale fast jets - key for 12 months' time when Britain's new carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, leads strike group exercises with her flagships and their F-35 Lightning strike fighters.
Later in the deployment, HMS Duncan will break away from the French task group to join NATO ships operating in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions – a mission she performed last year, earning her a fleet effectiveness award and the title of the Navy’s best destroyer.
Commander Mike Carter Quinn, HMS Dragon’s Commanding Officer, said:
“It was a great moment seeing the familiar shape of a fellow Type 45 steaming over the horizon and then receiving such a warm welcome from the entire ship’s company of HMS Duncan.”
“It is superb to see her back out on operations in the eastern Mediterranean."
"For the Royal Navy to have two destroyers hard at work on operations – in addition to all the other British ships and units deployed around the world – it sends a powerful message about our commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability around the globe.”
In return, his opposite number aboard HMS Duncan, Commander Tom Trent, said:
“It was great to see HMS Dragon as she returns after a hugely-successful period of operations in the Middle East and thanks to the French-led task force for providing us the opportunity to close and pay respects to one of our sister ships.
“We wish HMS Dragon safe sailing, and hope they enjoy a well-deserved rest with their friends and families.”