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the Konkan
● A hunting we will go (Pt 2) ... A
Flying Tiger of 814 NAS lifts off
from Illustrious at sunrise
The Brits, French and opted for an even smaller Meanwhile, as Illustrious
Americans were joined by tin can. and her ‘chicks’ were sailing
a sizeable Indian force, led HMS Trafalgar played around off India, Edinburgh –
by the imposing destroyer host to a mish-mash of typically at Lusty’s side as her
INS Mysore, INS Rajput sailors from the RN, aerial guardian – could be found
and INS Gomati, plus RFA and US Navy initially in Pakistan.
a tanker. – courtesy of HMS The Type 42, which celebrated
Konkan wasn’t all Illustrious, RFAs its 25th birthday this spring,
about things which Wave Knight and headed to Karachi for a mixture
lurk beneath the Fort Austin and of naval exercises and hands-
waves. USS Cole – during across-the-ocean events.
Once the boats had a brief hiatus in anti- So alongside there were official
strutted their stuff it submarine exercises. receptions, sporting fixtures,
was time for the fast jet Space is at a premium cocktail parties and the like.
boys to muscle in on the in the hunter-killer And at sea there were
exercise. boats, so the visitors exercises with PNS Babur
The Naval Strike Wing had left – some of whom had won with Edinburgh’s Lynx
Lusty behind to return to the UK (or was it lost?) a draw Tallisker swapping places
so they could prepare for their aboard their respective with Babur’s Alouette
impending return to Afghanistan. ships – found themselves The former should
So wherefore that distinctive accommodated in the have had little trouble
roar of the Pegasus engine and bomb shop amid an setting down on
pointed nose? array of torpedoes. Babur’s flight deck;
Enter the Sea Harriers of the The ‘tourists’ the ship was HMS
Indian Navy, operating out of breathed a sigh of Amazon until sold
nearby Goa (sadly India’s sole relief once the boat
to Pakistan over a
carrier, the former HMS Hermes,
had safely dived to decade ago.
was in refit so she couldn’t
periscope depth, then From Karachi, it was
tucked into dinner around the tip of India and
We may have ditched ed
in Trafalgar’s ‘compact’ on to Sri Lanka.
the interceptor a couple ple
ward room beneath the There was a brief pause to
of years ago, but thethe
Indian Ocean. allow hands to bathe before
Commonwealth nation n
After a comprehensive sailing into Colombo; the sea
is still flying the
tour of the boat was a balmy 29˚C.
FRS51 variant of the
(including a visit to It wasn’t all glorious weather,
immortal jump jet.
the deep freezer), however. The Edinburgh
Lusty towed her
the visitors settled sailors experienced their first
splash target, then
down to a night rain (apparently) since leaving
waited for the Indian
in rather spartan Pompey four months ago in the
pilots to race in and
surroundings. bustling Sri Lankan city. (The
strike it not with bombs
“Sleeping in possibly rain’s impact was somewhat
or cannon, but rockets.
the smallest space in assuaged by the fact that it was
After a series of practice
which most of us had 34˚C.)
runs, the jets raced in to unleash
ever attempted to The destroyer spent just
dummy rockets: the first two
sleep had its own issues two days in Colombo –
were near misses, but by the third
– not least trying not to enough time for a trip to
and fourth runs, the pilots were
bang your head,” said a Buddhist temple and,
straddling the target.
one of Trafalgar’s RFA for those not quite so
“I expected the target to have
visitors. culturally minded, a
received some damage,” said
Next morning the karaoke bar.
PO(SEA) Neil Payne, who was
bleary-eyed guests And then it was
monitoring the bombing runs
awoke and the further eastwards, this
from Illustrious’ quarterdeck, “but
smell of fresh air time for Singapore.
when we recovered it, it wasn’t
filled the boat as It takes five days to
and lives to fight another day.
Trafalgar was back sail from Sri Lanka
“In reality, if the rockets had
on the surface, allowing to Sembawang, where the
been full of high explosive, the
the submarine tourists to Fortress of the Sea prepared
target wouldn’t have stood a
return to their skimmers. herself for an impending
international exercise.
The Orion 08 group comprises
Edinburgh is Britain’s
flagship Illustrious, led by Cdre
representative at the annual
Five Powers Defence Agreement
Tom Cunningham, plus HMS
Exercise, Bersama Lima
Westminster (pictured below
(Malaysia, Singapore, Australia
heading across the Bay of Bengal)
and New Zealand complete the
and HMS Trafalgar, RFAs Fort
Austin and Wave Knight, and at
times, an eclectic mix of Allied
warships, currently USS Cole and
FS Surcouf; destroyer HMS
Pictures: LA(Phots) Pete Smith,
Edinburgh has split from
FRPU West, and
Darby Allen, HMS Illustrious
the group and is operating
independently in the Far
East – see below.
The force left UK waters
in February and, after three
months at sea in a tin can,
several sailors with the group
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