Surface Action Group Exercise 2.00 hours (Night and instruments)
I mentioned earlier that we were in company with other ships. HMS Bristol was the leader and there was also HMS's Cardiff, Active, Avenger, Minerva and Penelope plus two supply ships RFA's Bayleaf and Olna. We were known colloquially as the 'Bristol Group'.
The night sortie was fairly standard even if it was under instrument conditions for the whole trip so quite demanding. A SAG (Surface Action Group) is a bunch of ships and their aircraft going after some poor unsuspecting bunch of enemy ships. We were just a part of that but Andromeda was the lead ship for this sort of attack and so guess who got to go out front?
One of the nice things about writing about things that happened in the dim distant past is that one can admit to cockups with fair confidence that any bollockings are past their sell by date. So HMS Bristol. Built as an escort for the defunct nuclear carrier that Dennis Healey cancelled in the mid 60s (the bastard) she was quite an odd ship, a one off but a very good command and control vessel. She was not built with Lynx in mind. At the back she used to have an anti submarine mortar but that had been removed and plated over so her flight deck was a reasonable size. Anyway that morning we had to pop over to her and HMS Active a type 21 frigate and deliver some stuff (can't remember what). So there's Bristol with her nice shiny flight deck, which I proceed to land on. I remember thinking that I didn't think much of her Flight Deck Officer who seemed to be waving his bats in a very odd manner. Anyway the deck was a good size and I'm sure our rotor blades were well clear of her after Sea Dart launcher, so no problems.
When we got home we had an odd signal from Bristol asking why we had landed on a deck not cleared for Lynx operations and didn't the pilot understand the deck signals for a 'wave off'? Oops. We quickly checked the publication that lists all NATO ships and their aviation capabilities and sure enough Bristol was only cleared for the smaller Wasp helicopter - but that was before the mortar had been plated over.
What to do. Seemples - signal from Andromeda to Bristol 'She is now'.
HMS Bristol with loads of room at the back!!!