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Here be Dragon (almost)
30 August 2011

HMS Dragon – the fourth of Britain's six Type 45 destroyers – will make her first appearance in Portsmouth tonight.

The £1bn warship has completed her fitting out on the Clyde and two sets of trials and left Glasgow for the last time on Saturday. She's due to anchor at Spithead around 5pm and enter Portsmouth Harbour tomorrow morning at 8.30am.

Dragon passes under the Erskine Bridge. Pictures: LA(Phot) Ben Sutton, FRPU North

HERE be Dragon. About 5pm tonight to be precise.

Shepherded down the Clyde by two tugs, HMS Dragon makes her way to her home for the next quarter of a century for the first time.

The Type 45 destroyer – the fourth of six shields of the Fleet which will protect Britain’s warships from aerial attack – left the BAE Systems yard at Scotstoun on Saturday morning.

Since her launch a little way along the Clyde at Govan back in November 2008, the destroyer has completed fitting out at Scotstoun and two spells of extended sea trials, one last autumn, the other this spring.

Dragon's departure from Glasgow marks the end of nearly six years’ work by shipwrights, technicians and engineers who cut the first steel on the ship back in December 2005. Around 100 BAE employees watched the ship leave the yard.

That does not bring the curtain down on the firm’s involvement with Dragon, however. She’s got a mixed BAE-Royal Navy crew on board – although the former will depart when the ship’s formally handed over to the Senior Service tomorrow in Portsmouth Naval Base and the White Ensign is hoisted for the first time.

Portmuthians (and residents of Ryde for that matter too) should be able to see Dragon – still distinguished by two enormous red mythical motifs on her bow – from around 5pm today when she anchors at Spithead for the night.

She’s due to leave Outer Spit Buoy at 8.30am tomorrow for her inaugural entry into Portsmouth. She will do so, according to her Commanding Officer Cdr Darren Houston, “in top condition for the rigours of the next stage of her sea trials and the challenges ahead.”

Still being fitted out on the Clyde are ships five (Defender) and six (Duncan) in the Type 45 programme. The first three destroyers – Daring, Dauntless and Diamond – are all commissioned and operational, with Daring and Dauntless due to sail on their maiden deployments early in the new year.