HMS Defender showcases the best of Global Britain in a successful visit to Istanbul

A Royal Navy air-defence destroyer was put to good use during its recent five day visit to Istanbul, hosting a series of events, including an exclusive reception and ‘Industry Day’ on board the ship for senior Turkish officials and business leaders, to promote Global Britain.

Organised together with the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), the evening reception followed by the Industry Day offered an opportunity for major UK companies represented in Turkey, such as Airbus, Shell, Rolls Royce and Vodafone, to showcase their cutting edge technology to Turkish stakeholders.

The invitation-only reception took place on the night of 9 June, attended by guests from the Turkish Defence Ministry, as well as other ministries of the Turkish Republic. The event also attracted a lot of attention from key business people who have close relationships with the UK.

After the Captain’s welcoming speech, the guests were also welcomed by Britain’s Ambassador to Turkey, Sir Dominick Chilcott, who made clear the “great importance” Her Majesty’s Government gives to Turkey and co-operation with the Turkish defence industry.

The evening reception was followed by a specially arranged ‘Industry Day’ on 10 June, delivered by DIT. UK companies such as Airbus, Shell, Thales, Arup, BAE Systems, Inmarsat, Leonardo, Rolls Royce and Vodafone had a stand on board the ship where they could engage with their stakeholders. The exhibition was held on the flight deck and the hangar of the ship.

Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Vince Owen said: “It’s a great privilege to have the opportunity to represent Global Britain in Istanbul.

“Turkey is an important partner and NATO ally and I’m very much looking forward to welcoming representatives from the Turkish government, business world, armed forces and defence sector on board to show them what we’re capable of.’’

Leading British companies doing business in Turkey utilised the unique opportunity to showcase the best of UK technology to their Turkish stakeholders, and to discuss trends and possible areas of collaboration.

Among the key areas for growth between the UK and Turkey are in the advanced manufacturing, clean growth, defence and security sectors.

After the Industry Day, a sunset dinner with the participation of 20 VVIP guests was held on board where exclusive tours of the ship, and the remarkable hospitality shown by the Captain and the cabin crew, impressed the guests immensely.

HMS Defender is the fifth of the Type 45 or Daring-class air-defence destroyers built for the Royal Navy.

Part of the UK-led CSG-21 (Carrier Strike Group) deployment, the ship spent time in the Mediterranean in May as part of NATO’s security mission dubbed Operation Sea Guardian.

The Type 45 destroyer then made a five-day stop in Istanbul before heading to the Black Sea with the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen for drills with Ukraine and other countries in the region.

The warships drew the attention of Russian forces in the Black Sea on two separate occasions. On 23 June, HMS Defender undertook a freedom of navigation patrol through the disputed waters around the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, drawing a fiery diplomatic response from Moscow.

The risky mission by the UK was intended to show solidarity with Ukraine, with which it signed a naval cooperation agreement onboard the HMS Defender on 21 June.

The Defender’s deployment so far has been mainly focused on her work in the Carrier Strike Group, in which she forms part of the ‘ring of steel’ – including frigates, submarines, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and aircraft – around carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden operational deployment.