HMS Duncan in Palma.

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The Royal Navy’s newest warship, the Type 45 destroyer, HMS Duncan, docked in Palma yesterday morning at the start of a short visit. HMS Duncan has been on operations in the Black Sea and at the end of last month visited the Ukrainian port of Odessa. It was the first Royal Navy ship to visit the port in eight years.

That was the latest in a series of port visits and exercises conducted by the state-of-the-art warship in the region. The Portsmouth-based destroyer led a NATO task group into the Ukrainian port at the start of a three-day visit ahead of exercises with the host nation’s warships. The force was given a plum berth in the cruise liner terminal and warmly welcomed by Ukrainian leaders, including the head of the country’s navy, Vice-Admiral Ihor Voronchenko.

The Type 45 destroyer has been leading NATO’s Standing Maritime Naval Group 2 (SNMG2), providing reassurance and deterrence in the Black Sea, as well as commanding NATO’s counter migration activity in the Aegean.

For the next 12 months, the Royal Navy is commanding two of the four NATO Standing Naval Forces, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to and leadership within the alliance. HMS Duncan is playing a key role in these operations.

One of the exercises staged recently and led by HMS Duncan was one of the largest naval exercises to have been staged in the Black Sea. Hosted in and off the Bulgarian port of Varna, Breeze 17 tested naval forces from more than half a dozen nations and their ability to safeguard Black Sea shores and shipping. Demonstrations culminated with Royal Marines and their Bulgarian counterparts taking down ‘terrorists’ who had seized a ship in Varna.

Elsewhere sailors had to deal with a major fire ravaging a merchantman in port, the illegal trafficking of migrants, and a large-scale rescue of people in distress at sea. The exercise also allowed Duncan to work alongside an old friend, as the Romanian involvement was led by Regele Ferdinand, also known as the former Type 22 frigate HMS Coventry.

Breeze 17 was the first major exercise for Duncan since it took charge of SNMG2, one of two task forces for larger warships operated by NATO to maintain the freedom of the seas, deter illegal migration and remind nations of the importance and strength of the alliance.