Tuesday, 29 May 2012

29 May 1982, Nuclear? day

Log Book entry:  ESM AEW 3.15 hours
                           ESM AEW + Exocet Guard 1.45 hours day .39 minutes night

The first trip of the day was a 'bum nummer'.  Over three hours in a Lynx starts to get pretty uncomfortable although it won't be the longest by far.  I'm guessing that we refuelled from someone as the endurance of the aircraft was only just over two hours.  Still it was a quiet trip which was good.
The second sortie was just a bit more interesting.  The job was to escort a merchantmen, the ELK, into the islands.  At last we would be flying in a role to use the jammer as designed.  It was clear from earlier attacks that the highest Exocet risk was as the islands were approached.   Our job was to fly to one side and counter any Exocet if they were fired.  Fine but there were a couple of issues.  The first thing we couldn't understand was why we left in bright daylight.  We were pretty sure the Argies wouldn't try an attack in the dark, so why not leave a few hours later?  I have a theory. The war was conducted in 'Zulu' time, ie GMT although we were actually about four hours ahead with local time.  The chaps in the Hermes operations room spent all their time in darkness and I do wonder whether they had completely forgotten about the fact that the sun shone outside.  I may be wrong of course, but I really can't see the reason we left so early.
The second point was more personal.  the ELK was a P&O roll on roll off ferry, fitted with emergency flight decks and carried several Wessex helicopters.  She also had a range of stores including 2000 tons of ammunition.  If she had been hit and that lot had gone off it was the equivalent of a fifth of the size of the Hiroshima bomb.
Bob and I decided to concentrate very hard.  Luckily we weren't attacked.............

The RoRo Ferry, MV ELK and a potential 2 Kiloton Bomb.

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