Wednesday, 23 May 2012

23 May 1982, Something different

Log Book entry:  Transfer to Onyx  2.15 hours

This is a bit of an odd one and I would really like to be able to remember why we did it.  Onyx was the only diesel powered submarine to take part in the war. Smaller and quieter than a nuclear sub she was perfect for clandestine coastal operations.  There are all sorts of stories, even now, about the SF guys who operated ashore in Argentina, especially around the Air Base at Rio Grande.  Some seem to suggest that they were attempting to destroy the Exocet carrying Etendard aircraft but the Argies had heavily reinforced the airfield.  I personally don't think that likely.  However one thing we did know was; when their aircraft took off, how many there were and what weapons they had - I wonder how we knew that??
Anyway a submarine transfer is always 'fun' for a helicopter especially with a small one like Onyx.  We couldn't use her casing as it was too dangerous, being close to the sea, so we had to lower people in and out of her fin.  This meant hovering quite high and with very few visual references.  We used a 'hi-line' technique where we lowered a light line with a weight on it first and the crew on the sub then used that to guide the winch strop (with body) as we lowered it.  In a larger aircraft like a Sea King there was room for an aircrewman to go down with the passenger but we didn't have that luxury.  In fact when winching Bob had to get out of his seat and go into the cabin to deploy and control our winch. I did have a winch controller on my collective lever as well, so I could help with it when Bob was busy.  Looking at my logbook, I see we did three deck landings in this sortie so I think we took some of our people there and then recovered them.  Quite what the discussions were about I did't need to know and can only guess.

HMS Onyx on a calm day. We had to transfer to the tiny top of the fin. Even with her masts down it was hard work as when right above the fin I basically couldn't see the submarine at all.

Things are hotting up in San Carlos again.  Antelope is hit but the bomb doesn't explode.  Ten Argie aricraft are shot down.


  1. SF guys sitting in a hedge, disguised as dog turds looking through high-powered binos??

    Might be the genesis of another book?
    Some fascinating insights. Perhaps the next book should be non-fiction. 'One man's war', that sort of thing?

  2. Having been lowered from a Wasp to a diesel submarine, I understand what you are saying - and that wasn't even using a 'hi-line' technique. Now as to the guys who went ashore .....