HMS Defender has returned to Portsmouth after deployment in the Mediterranean 29112022 CREDIT Royal Navy
The Type 45 destroyer has sailed more than 27,000 nautical miles this year (Picture: Royal Navy).
Sea vessels

Navy destroyer HMS Defender returns home as she completes 'epic' 2022 mission

HMS Defender has returned to Portsmouth after deployment in the Mediterranean 29112022 CREDIT Royal Navy
The Type 45 destroyer has sailed more than 27,000 nautical miles this year (Picture: Royal Navy).

HMS Defender has returned to Portsmouth from security operations in the Mediterranean, putting a seal on her 2022 mission.

The Type 45 destroyer has sailed more than 27,000 nautical miles this year, operating in the High North, the Baltic, and, more recently, further south in the Mediterranean with HMS Albion's task group in the region. 

Sailors have reacted to short-notice activations and been involved in three major operations during an epic 2022.

Defender returned home after being deployed to the Mediterranean since mid-September, working with Nato allies and partners on a European security mission. 

The ship operated closely with the Hellenic Navy, including on-air defence exercises – an area of expertise for the Type 45 destroyer due to its cutting-edge sensors and weaponry, including Sea Viper missiles, capable of knocking moving targets out of the sky from up to 70 miles away.

She sailed into the Adriatic Sea to meet up with the US Navy's supercarrier USS George HW Bush as part of a multinational force that included ships from Turkey, France and Spain.

This phase of her deployment was intensive but also crucial as she worked closely with the US carrier and her task group, and also Nato's leading force in the region – Standing Nato Maritime Group 2.

HMS Defender carried out exercises in a range of naval warfare over four days before heading to Split, Croatia, later working with the Croatian warship Vukovar before heading for Taranto in Italy – all after escorting HMS Albion, RFA Argus and RFA Mounts Bay into Bar in Montenegro.

At the start of 2022, Defender was deployed to the frozen north as part of the ring of steel surrounding aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales as the largest Nato exercises in the High North in 30 years took place.

Known as Cold Response, the Norwegian-led exercises saw 27 nations and 30,000 troops converge on the region in a showing of military might.

Watch: HMS Defender joined HMS Prince of Wales on the largest Arctic exercise in 30 years.

Defender remained in the High North into April and was leading her own task group in the region, which included the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Gravely and tanker RFA Tidesurge.

On completion of operations, Defender visited the Faroe Islands and worked closely with the Danish ship HDMS Vædderen.

May and June saw Defender head into the Baltic with Nato allies, showing the alliance's continued commitment to the region's security during the largest military exercises there this year.

Defender provided the firepower and leading-edge technology, while six of the smallest craft in the Royal Navy's inventory – Archer, Charger, Explorer, Exploit, Ranger and Smiter – provided the speed, agility and numbers to swarm around participants in Baltops 22, an exercise which involved 47 warships from 16 nations, including Sweden and Finland.

More than 7,000 military personnel were put through their paces in operational training across 13 days designed to forge closer bonds between Nato allies and partners and protect the security and prosperity of the Baltic and its nations.

HMS Defender deployed in the Baltic Sea on Exercise BALTOPS22 27062022 CREDIT Royal Navy
HMS Defender was involved in anti-submarine warfare exercises but also operated in her main role in air defence during Exercise Baltops 22 (Picture: Royal Navy).

The Nato ships and around 90 aircraft – the most ever on Baltops – pitted their wits against each other in testing warfare scenarios, battling threats beneath, on and above the waves.

Warships from Nato partners, Finland and Sweden, were for the first time in control of ships in a Nato task group, leading the way during mock battles against surface and underwater threats.

Once Baltops wrapped up, Defender and the six P2000 patrol ships then headed to Kiel, Germany.