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● Dark skies... Gibraltar lies in the shadow of a particularly eerie cloud as Lancaster arrives
Argyll deals
Channels crimelords
her energies a major blow
LAST month it was Sark, this COCAINE worth more than £5m
month her neighbour Alderney was seized in a joint operation
received a visit from a British involving the RN and Customs
warship. offi cials.
Sark hadn’t seen a vessel HMS Argyll and two Customs
flying the White Ensign in a cutters bore down on a yacht
quarter of a century (HMS 15 miles off the Cornish coast,
Cattistock put that right). the last act in a major criminal
The people of Alderney investigation overseen by the
hadn’t been starved of an RN UK’s Serious Organised Crime
visitor for quite so long. Agency – ‘Britain’s FBI’.
But it was still six years since The trio struck at dawn,
fishery protection ship HMS searching the 35ft Ronin and
Alderney paid her farewell visit finding three large sacks hidden
to the isle. containing around 100 1kg
Minehunter HMS Brocklesby bags of cocaine.
plugged that gap, anchoring in Officials say an important
Alderney Harbour off the village blow has been delivered to an
of Bray, whose inhabitants organised criminal network in
were rather chuffed to see the the capital.
sailors. “All of us were delighted
Despite being a boat ride to be able to contribute. We
away, many islanders took the routinely train with personnel
opportunity to tour this rare from other agencies and it is
visitor – especially Alderney’s gratifying to be reminded that
youth groups (the Cubs were the training works and to know
rather awestruck by the we have made a difference,”
warship’s 30mm main gun). said Cdr Peter Olive, Argyll’s
And one in every 24 Alderney Commanding Officer.
residents – or 100 spectators if Two men were arrested
you prefer – turned up to watch aboard the Ronin, which had
the ship’s football team take on come from the Caribbean; a
the island’s finest. third man was later arrested in
The locals proved too London.
good for the sailors – five of The yacht was taken
whom had never played with to Plymouth for forensic
the Brocklesby side before – examination.
dispatching the visitors 4-0 on
a glorious summer’s day.
The minehunter men weren’t
A Daring
worn out by their sporting
exertions and went on a
tour of the island – the third
largest in the Channel Island
chain – to see the capital St
Anne and some of the historic
ALTHOUGH she’s not even
fortifications safeguarding
offi cially entered Naval service
Alderney from invasion.
yet, Type 45 HMS Daring
Before departing, Red is the colour
is already making her mark
Brocklesby’s CO Lt Cdr Tom
around the nation’s coast,
Tredray presented items from
rushing to the rescue of a
the RN Trophy Store to the
BARELY had the distinctive droning of Merlin engines
The stop in Soudha (for fuel) proved barely any longer than the fi shing vessel off Arran.
island’s president, Sir Norman
faded over the Solent than HMS Lancaster was half a
stop in Gib (some sailors did manage to get ashore in the port/ The destroyer, crewed by
Browse, as well as a ship’s world away beginning her six-month tour of duty.
resort of Chania). both Royal Navy and BVT
Next stop, Suez. The warship passed through the famous canal
Surface Fleet staff, put her
The frigate received a traditional send-off from families and a
in the middle of a convoy of merchant ships – container vessels
“My ship’s company worked
sea trials in the Firth of Clyde
vintage Lancaster bomber, kindly provided by the RAF whenever
and tankers.
fantastically hard to bring
on hold when she picked up
the warship heads off on or back from deployment.
It was, said Surg Lt Nic ‘The Doc’ Dodds, “one of the
Brocklesby to Alderney – and
a distress call from the Irish
The characteristic sound of the fabled bomber may (or
oddest cavalcades I have ever seen”. It was also not a lot
we had a great time there,” said
trawler Paloma.
may not) have drowned out an equally distinctive noise
of fun.
Lt Cdr Tredray.
Sixteen minutes later Daring
– ET William ‘Kiddie’ Child dressed in traditional Scottish
“Our boys – upper-deck weapons crew – were standing
Brocklesby’s ship’s company
arrived at the scene to fi nd the
garb, playing the bagpipes as the frigate passed Round
behind the Miniguns and GPMGs in the sweltering heat,
had only recently taken charge
33ft fi shing boat taking on water
ever vigilant for attack, sweat in eyes, Kevlar body
of their vessel when they
at an alarming rate.
Lancaster’s latest deployment takes her east of Suez
armour and combats on, as time dribbled endlessly
headed across the Channel.
Daring launched her own
– increasingly the home of the Type 23 fl eet – in support
by,” the surgeon added.
They had previously
fast infl atable boat and BVT’s
of Allied operations to deny criminals and terrorists
Thankfully, nothing lasts for ever, and the drab
been in charge of her sister
Weapons and Outfi t Engineer
use of the high seas.
backdrop of Suez soon gave way first to the Red Sea,
Chiddingfold in the Gulf as part
Willie Brownless boarded
The Red Rose frigate paid a lightning visit to Gib –
then to the Gulf of Aden.
of the rotation of the entire
Paloma to help the two
but not too lightning that her sailors couldn’t attempt
Lancaster is now attached to Operation Calash,
Hunt-class squadron through
crewmen. Although the water
the Rock Race under particularly ominous skies; Nelson
the security sweep of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean
the Middle East (see page 2).
was already up to the level
was the fi rst man to the top, AB Nelson Smith that is. which attempts to strangle piracy, drug smuggling,
of the engine room plates,
Then it was a pretty swift crossing of the Med too. The people traffi cking and other illegal activities on these busy
he judged the boat would be
The angels
passage from the Rock to Soudha Bay in Crete, Lancaster’s waters.
able to regain her stability by
next port of call, was crammed with fi re drills, live fi ring tests, “The mood onboard has definitely changed now – calmer, more
pumping out the water.
machinery breakdown exercises, men overboard (not real ones), methodical, more tense. It’s here and now that the deployment Shortly afterwards lifeboats
of Mersey
and fi nally a Merlin crash on the fl ight deck (again, not a real one). proper begins.” from Arran and Troon arrived to
There was a little time for relaxation, however – an Olympic- You can follow Lancaster’s deployment courtesy of Nic The escort Paloma safely back to
themed ‘hands to bathe’ courtesy of a hurriedly-installed ‘diving Doc’s internet diary (blog) at the Ayrshire coast.
ENGINEERS from fi shery
board’. show/nav.7076
protection ship HMS Mersey
saved the lives – and boat –
of Danish trawlermen when
the North Sea threatened to
overwhelm it.
The Portsmouth-based patrol
vessel was working with the THE number of surviving ships
Dutch around 40 miles off the from the Falklands campaign
Netherlands coast when she is one fewer, sadly, as work
picked up a mayday from the begins dismantling HMS
Danish fishing boat Inger Lis a Intrepid.
dozen miles away. The assault ship, which was
Mersey’s seaboat was key to re-taking the South
dispatched with LET(ME) Atlantic islands in 1982, was
Gerard Crummey and ET(ME) towed out of Portsmouth last
Tom Randall aboard to help the month, bound for the breaker’s
The duo found water five Intrepid and her sister
feet deep in the engine room –
es: la(phot) brian douglas, frpu north
Fearless were spared a similar
and the Inger Lis’ engine itself fate a generation ago – a
almost submerged. decision which was vindicated
A heavy duty pump was sent within months when Argentina
across from Mersey and within invaded the Falklands.
15 minutes the two sailors had Liberating the islands proved
the engine room free of water to be the landing ships’ finest
once more. hour.
They found the source of the Intrepid spent the last dozen
leak – near the trawler’s rudder years of her life laid up in
– but they were unable to fix Portsmouth waiting for a call
it and stop several gallons of for action which never came.
the North Sea pouring in every Her sister is already being
minute. Thankfully, the pumps broken up (or ‘recycled’ in
kept the sea at bay. modern parlance) in Ghent.
The stricken vessel was British firm Leavesley
eventually towed into port International won the
by a Dutch lifeboat, while contract to dismantle her
the Mersey men returned to sister on Merseyside in an
their ship to resume fishery ‘environmentally-friendly’
protection patrols. manner.
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