Aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and HMS Duncan (Picture: MOD)
HMS Duncan joined 200,000 tonnes of naval might as she worked with two American aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer joined the USS John C Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle groups, honing skills needed to work with Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class flagships.
The Stennis is making her way home to Norfolk, Virginia, after operations in the Middle East while USS Abraham Lincoln is in the early stages of a deployment which will take her to the Gulf and Pacific before arriving at her new home of San Diego.
Both nuclear-powered warships, displacing 100,000 tonnes each, are home to upwards of 6,000 sailors, marines and aviators, some 60 fast-jets – mostly F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters – plus intelligence gathering Hawkeyes and around 20 helicopters.
They can launch more than 120 sorties a day during intensive operations – including catapulting more than 20 F/A-18s skywards one after another in rapid succession.
Duncan is one of six Type 45 destroyers built to both defend a task group from air attack as well as to guide jet fighters and bombers on to targets.
She did both in the opening stages of her deployment alongside France’s flagship Charles de Gaulle; the carrier’s Rafale jets carried out strikes against Isis forces in Syria and Iraq.
Since then she has broken away from the French to join a NATO task force patrolling the Mediterranean, promoting the work of the alliance and conducting combined training to ensure the group is ready for any eventuality.