Friday, 18 May 2012

18 May 1982, Good ideas and bloody stupid ones

This is a bit of a composite entry.  As of the next day we sail and things get extremely busy so I will take the opportunity to mention some of the other things that were going on elsewhere in an effort to make our life more interesting.  Those who have read 'Sea Skimmer' will have already read some of this but this is the true bit.
On the aircraft front we had been given an increase in our take off weight of 1000lbs which meant we could now launch with two Skua, the jammer and a full load of fuel.  The aircraft didn't seem to mind the extra load and this was going to prove extremely useful.
We received a signal one day detailing how to fit a 45 gallon oil drum of diesel fuel into the cabin and then pump it up to spray into an engine exhaust.  Presumably this was to make smoke screens.  Apart from being bloody dangerous and stupid, it might have been worthwhile in the First World War but strangely things had moved on a bit since then and we had this odd thing called radar.....  Unfortunately we never received a half inch machine gun in a pod which would have been just so much fun ('Sea Skimmer' again - sorry).
We saw a Wasp fly by one day with a radar reflector the size of a barn on the side.  Apparently it was another way of increasing the number of targets an Exocet might have to chose from.  God knows what it did to the aerodynamics of an already underpowered helicopter.
One of our quandaries was what to do at Action Stations if we weren't flying.  Our muster place was the flight deck so the Gunnery Officer issued us all with SLR rifles and a General Purpose Machine Gun.  The idea was so we could take pot shots at any attacking aircraft.  In reality it was more to give us something to do.  One day we received a signal on how to convert the single shot rifles to fully automatic using a cocktail stick under the return sear of the firing mechansim.  I volunteered to try it out, being a bit of a shootist in the past.  And boy did it work.  The whole magazine fired off in a few seconds. So with about ten rifles and a machine gun to hand we could put up about three hundred rounds in a very short time.  Who knows, it might have worked.  We never got the opportunity to try it for real but other ships did.

Grr Grr!The flight team at action stations with guns and stuff.  Even if we weren't going to be that effective it gave us something to do if we weren't flying.  There is another far more interesting story behind this photograph and I'll be posting it again but much later in the narrative.


  1. A motley-looking crew, not exactly the 'hole in the wall' gang! You all look more worried than grimly determined. The lads with the SLRs seem to be pointing the business end at their oppos, shurley a mistake?

  2. Ah I did say there is a little more to this photo - you'll just have to wait to find out. As for pointing the guns there was no way round it on a crowded deck. The rule we used was that there was to be nothing up the spout and all safety catches on until ordered. So it was as safe as wartime could be.