No Flying: ARFA was getting some TLC
However the weekend was over and Bob and I were getting stuck into various briefings and issues. One that caught us completely by surprise was when we were called to a meeting and handed a strange black box.
Some background first. Amongst many of the new systems in Andromeda was STWS 2; Ships Torpedo Weapon System No 2. This system was the reason we had been away all year. Homing anti-submarine torpedoes had been around for years and up until then the American made Mark 46 was the device in service. It was pretty old and submariners used to laugh at us about it as it was easily evaded. They stopped laughing when the Stingray came into service. A far more capable (British) weapon, designed to take out even the most modern of Soviet subs, what's more it actually worked! The STWS system was designed to allow surface ships to launch the torpedo although the weapons were also carried by most helicopters. STWS 2 was the first version to fire Stingrays and we had to go to the Bahamas, to the AUTEC ranges there to prove it. It was a tough job but someone had to do it.
Because of this we had magazines and equipment to store Stingrays. I'm not sure who or why the decision came about but it was decided that Andromeda would take five 'warshot' rounds down south with us. You have to understand that the weapon was not really in operational service at this time so this was a bit risky but we were terrified of the submarine threat. The Argies had two German conventional submarines that represented a real problem for us. In fact they never got them working but we didn't know that at the time and the threat was real. Apparently quite a large number of whales were torpedoed during the war.............
So some bright spark thought that the aircraft ought to be made Stingray capable as well. Hence the briefing. We were literally handed a Stingray pre-setter box and told how to use it, in all of about forty five minutes. A pre-setter is the control box for the weapon which in this case was a direct fit and replacement for the existing Mark 46 box. However the knobs and switches on it were quite different. I can't remember the detail except for one thing - 'Don't launch it on the shallow setting if QE2 is around as it could take her out!' No worries then.
This was the start of an amazing few days and just the first of several innovations that were going to make our life quite interesting even before we sailed south.
A STWS 2 system with a Stingray in a trolley, probably about to be loaded.
Stingray on the port weapon carrier of a Lynx