I’ve just started watching this documentary on Channel 4 on demmand. Heres the programme blurb:
HMS Daring is the Royal Navy’s most costly and complex warship to date. With old and outmoded ships standing guard over our shores, the navy is building defence for the 21st century: a revolutionary new ship with cutting-edge technology that has never been to sea. Costing £1 billion, Daring is the first new destroyer built in Britain since 1985 and is to be followed by five more. Irrespective of whether this fleet of Type 45 destroyers is a hangover from a dated Cold War mentality or is more relevant than anyone dare contemplate, these impressive warships represent a quantum leap forward in naval technology. Channel 4 is given special access to HMS Daring, filming the entire process from construction in 2004 through to testing and using the new weapons systems at sea. The shipbuilders construct a warship the modern way, with new skills alongside traditional jobs, in three different locations around the country. Interviews with naval experts and officers, engineers, ship workers and the captains convey a real sense of the scale of the build and significance of Daring for the navy. Its stealth shape is dominated by its high-tech radar, mounted 36 metres above the sea to act as the eyes and ears of a guided missile system. The ship also boasts modern facilities for crew, such as email access, iPod docks and comfortable living quarters, including for mixed genders. This programme captures Daring’s dramatic launch: a Royal occasion for the people of Glasgow, to echo the historic launch days of old on the Clyde. The film also illustrates how the revolutionary British-built radar operates, and follows as Daring’s crew of men and women test their new ship to the limit and the captain leads his crew into action stations in a war game.
Phew, we got there in the end! Right, is it any good? Well, as the blurb suggests, it is a bit of a PR film. Every warship ever launched is always described as ‘the most advanced ever’ – its hardly an objective statement. Its more than a little rose-tinted – of course every ship designed is cutting edge when its launched, but then becomes obsolete almost as soon as it enters service.
And the film is a bit sheepish about describing the problems with the Sea Viper missile – there are clips of the missile being fired from a test barge, but it is not explained that neither HMS Daring nor her sister ship Dauntless have actually fired the missiles themselves.
It is, none the less, a very insightful look at the build process of a modern warship, with some nice footage of the ship being constructed, and some good interviews with naval and shipbuilding personalities.