Log Book entries: HDS 1.05 day .30 minutes night
HDS and Vertrep 1.30 hours
HDS = Helicopter Delivery Service, Vertrep = Vertical Replenishment. In simpler terms taking things around the fleet and sometimes with something hanging underneath us. As I recall this day, we went across to Hermes, the Flagship, to talk to the operations office as they had tasked us with the job. The tasking came out daily on a signal and it was clear the staff weren't fully aware of our limitations with the cabin full of jamming equipment. Bob went up to the ops room to square it away and I went for a chat with some of the aircrew on board. Soon we were back in the aircraft waiting for our first tasking. The signal that morning hadn't mentioned underslung loads so we hadn't bought a lifting strop. Despite Bob telling the ship, they calmly announced that our first netted load was coming up on the lift.
'Sorry Hermes, we cannot take underslung loads as briefed.'
'Standby. ....... Right your bread sacks are coming up.'
'Sorry Hermes, we cannot take large internal loads as briefed.'
'Er Roger standby. Can you take mail?'
'Yes Hermes .......... as briefed!'
So off we went in our multi million pound war plane and delivered the mail. To be fair Hermes was the centre of all aviation operations but there were times when she drove us slightly mad. Like always tasking us to fly with four Sea Skua although we repeatedly told them we could only carry two as we had a jammer fitted. Every time we arrived we were told to go into the 'Starboard wait' this is a position circling round on the ships starboard side. It became a standing joke with most of the helicopter aircrew. We felt that it was all down to fixed wing paranoia.
That afternoon with a strop fitted we had to take a heavy load back to Hermes. She was steaming in a direction that meant the relative wind was coming over her stern, so we had to approach facing that way. Aft facing approaches are a bit tricky as it's quite disorientating with the sea rushing past you the wrong way in your peripheral vision. After the usual ten minutes orbiting they called us in. I approached carefully as the load was heavy and I was using a lot of power. I established a hover alongside and started to move across the deck when the ship told me to overshoot as they had a Harrier on finals a mile away. With the lever under my armpits there was no way I was gong to try and fly clear. With a terse 'negative I'm committed' I dumped the load on deck. I then had to hold for several minutes before the Harrier finally appeared and landed well ahead of me. Nothing was said. We never looked forward to operating with her.
Hermes, a busy ship. The helicopter (a Mark 4 Sea King) is almost certainly not landing, he is going round in endless circles off the starboard side!
Ashore the Paras take Goose Green. The first we hear is that a few of our boys have taken an almost overwhelming amount of prisoners. Later we get the full story and hear what a bloody fight it had really been.