MORE than 14,000 people crammed onto the banks of the River Clyde as the Royal Navy's latest powerful destroyer, HMS Duncan, was launched on Monday.
The 7500-tonne Type 45 vessel is the sixth ship of its kind to be made for the Royal Navy and is expected to enter service in 2014.
Marie Ibbotson, wife of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet Vice Admiral Richard Ibbotson, sent the Type 45 down the slipway into the river as the sun reflected off the calm waters at BAE's Govan yard.
Defence Minister Peter Luff was among the crowd. He said: "The launch of Duncan is the culmination of a huge effort by workers here on the Clyde, British subcontractors across the country, and staff in the MoD.
"They have built potent warships of which everyone involved can be very proud."
The 7500-tonne HMS Duncan was built by BAE Systems using 2800 tonnes of steel and is covered with 40 tonnes of paint.
The warship is affiliated to Dundee and Belfast and completes the class of six Type 45 destroyer along with Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon and Defender.
BAE Systems is over halfway through the programme to deliver all six ships to the Royal Navy by the end of 2013.
The first of class, HMS Daring, entered service on July 31 and is currently on her first operational deployment, while HMS Dauntless, the second of class, was handed over to the Royal Navy last December and commissioned into service in June.
The third ship, Diamond, was handed over only three weeks ago and is preparing for stage two sea trials with the Royal Navy. The fourth ship, Dragon, will undertake her first sea trials next month, while the final stages of outfit are under way on Defender, the fifth ship in the class.
Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar said: "The Type 45 is world class. These ships are as versatile as they are powerful.
"Naturally her war-fighting capability includes the ability to engage hostile forces using the Sea Viper missile system, her gun or other onboard weapon systems, while her Ship's Company provide anything from boarding parties that deter and disrupt pirates, to landing ashore for the provision of humanitarian disaster relief.
"HMS Duncan can also deploy up to 60 Royal Marine Commandos and their equipment and operate a range of helicopters from her flight deck. These are fantastic ships and I look forward to HMS Duncan joining the Fleet."
The Type 45 destroyer is the largest and most powerful air defence destroyer ever built for the Royal Navy and will provide UK defence with a world-class military capability. The Type 45s will provide the backbone of the UK's naval air defences for the next 30 years and beyond.
The destroyers will be capable of carrying out a wide range of operations, including anti-piracy and anti-smuggling activities, disaster-relief work and surveillance operations as well as high intensity operations in war zones.
Each destroyer will be able to engage a number of targets simultaneously, and defend aircraft carriers or groups of ships, such as an amphibious landing force, against the strongest future threats from the air.
The vessels will contribute a specialist air warfare capability to worldwide maritime and joint operations until 2040.
HMS Duncan is named after Admiral Adam Duncan and was launched on the anniversary of his defeat of a Dutch fleet off Camperdown, to the north of Haarlem, on October 11, 1797.
Yesterday's pride at the launch of another "world class" warship was tinged with a reminder of the uncertainty surrounding the yard and the future of two aircraft carriers. The shell of the first could clearly be seen in another of Govan's gargantuan hangers.
The future of the carriers is in the balance due to defence spending cuts.
The UK government is expected to announce next week whether construction of the carriers will go ahead.
GMB Union convener at BAE, Jamie Webster, said: "The glass is always half full on the Clyde. Obviously we'll be launching Duncan today with one eye on next week."