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Pleasure to serve aboard.

INSTRUMENTAL in HMS Daring's progress so far are Midland sailors Stephen Delo and Gary Merricks.

Along with a 70 strong team of Navy personnel they have followed the mission that has become the cornerstone of their daily routine.

Plastered on whiteboards and walls is a reminder of their purpose: "To prepare to operate and fight."

Father-of-two Stephen Delo, aged 46, from Erdington, is a warfare specialist who has been in the navy for more than 28 years.

Mr Delo said: "I have fought in Iran, Iraq and Beirut but being involved in HMS Daring is something I'm just as proud of.

"When you meet a group of people and they ask you what you do for a living it feels really good to tell them you work on the most advanced warship in the Royal Navy.

"I train people as part of a human resources cell to give people the confidence and leadership skills to get to where they want whether it be in warfare, engineering, in the air or on the ground."

Marine Engineer Gary Merricks, from Walsall, can't wait to see the ship launch in 2009.

The 24-year-old father, a former pupil at Cannock Chase High School, was on board as the ship completed its first set of sea trials including a forced roll where the ship tilted spectacularly on to its side.

Mr Merricks said: "The forced role was a little bit scary but it was a pleasure to be on such an advanced ship.

"The highlight of my career so far has been drug busting in the Caribbean where I helped American forces searching boats for illegal substances.

"That was a real buzz and I got to tour some pretty glamourous parts of the world and hopefully Daring is the next step in my navy career."

CAPTION(S):

FORCED ROLL... Gary Merricks. Photosales No.: LB180907HMS-12
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 10, 2007
Words:309
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