Fear not! This 7,300-tonne guided missile destroyer has not been taken for a teenage joyride.
Instead this ‘maritime donut’ was a preparation for intense manoeuvres as Newcastle’s adopted warship HMS Dauntless powered out to sea for the North Sea’s biggest war game this year. The Type 45 Daring-class destroyer was testing its engines for Exercise Joint Warrior, which sees her guard her fleet from aerial attack while fending off surface foes such as jet skis and inflatable attack boats.
She won’t be alone – the pictures of her 30-knot circle were taken from the cargo door of her Merlin utility chopper.
The first Type 45s were launched in 2006 to serve as anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenders, using their distinctive pyramid-like radar masts to track over 2,000 targets at once.
The Dauntless carries 48 anti-air ‘Sea Viper’ missiles and two automated Phalanx gatling guns firing over 3,000 rounds a minute – though she has never been tested in combat.
HMS Dauntless docked in North Shields last week. Her crew played a friendly football match against Whitley Bay FC, and some took on a mammoth charity cycling challenge, travelling 301 miles on cycling machines – the same distance as from Newcastle to Twickenham, where the annual Army v Navy rugby match will take place on May 3.
Commander Adrian Fryer, the ship’s commanding officer, said: “The Royal Navy has long had strong bonds with Newcastle and HMS Dauntless has really been taken to the heart of the city.”