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HMS Duncan enters service early
HMS Duncan was commissioned into the Navy on September 26 and has entered service four months ahead of schedule (PA/MoD)
The last of the Royal Navy's six new powerful air defence destroyers has entered service four months ahead of schedule.
HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, was commissioned into the Navy on September 26 and was expected to be handed over to the fleet in the spring.
But preparations for the 7,500-tonne vessel have been achieved faster than planned and the warship has now joined the fleet alongside its sister ships, which are the UK's most advanced warships.
Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology Minister Philip Dunne said: "Thanks to the skill and hard work of the commanding officer, the ship's company and their MoD and industry partners, HMS Duncan has entered service four months early.
"It is testament to the improving control of projects across the armed forces and significant dedication across defence that all six ships of the Type 45 class are now in the hands of the Royal Navy.
"The Type 45 programme has provided the Royal Navy with one of the most sophisticated and effective air defence ships available anywhere in the world.
"We expect these vessels to see decades of service protecting the UK's interests around the world, including providing humanitarian aid as we saw recently with HMS Daring's efforts in the Philippines."
Commander James Stride, HMS Duncan's commanding officer, said: "The ship's company is rightly proud to be on board such a cutting edge warship as she becomes a fully-fledged member of the operational fleet.
"HMS Duncan joins the Royal Navy as the most advanced ship we have ever operated alongside the rest of the Type 45 class, able to operate across the globe protecting the fleet."
Duncan will now embark on a programme of trials to prepare the ship and crew for operational deployment.
Its handover to the fleet marks the end of a 13-year build programme with BAE Systems to deliver the six ships - Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan - which are all based at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire.
The warships are armed with the Sea Viper missile defence system which can target threats up to 70 miles (113km) away.
The Type 45s are 499ft (152m) in length, longer than 16 double-decker buses, and they are as tall as an electricity pylon.
Their onboard power plant can supply enough electricity to light a town of 80,000 people.
The first Type 45, HMS Daring, arrived in Portsmouth in January 2009 and most recently was involved in delivering aid and support to the people of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.