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● Southampton manoeuvres in choppy mist-laden waters off South Georgia during Exercise Cape Reach
A CRUISE liner running aground in a cold,
and the local commander Brig Nick Davies aboard
unforgiving environment?
to oversee the rescue mission.
What are the chances of that happening?
While Southampton’s Lynx winched the
Well, sadly, quite high – as HMS Endurance
passengers to safety and the ship’s medical team
found 12 months ago.
treated casualties, the soldiers set off in search
And so it was that destroyer HMS
of the tourists on Thatcher Peninsula who just
Southampton (who prefers to be known not
happened to get lost (it never rains... – Ed).
as The Saint but the ‘Mighty Ninety’ after her
Looking after so many casualties is
pennant number) led a major exercise in South
nevertheless demanding – and with no airfield
Georgia to test the ability of local forces and
on South Georgia, extra supplies had to be
emergency services to cope with a large-scale
parachuted in by a Hercules from the Falklands
(demanding a 1,500-mile round trip).
Endurance responded swiftly and effectively
Oh, and did we mention there was an oil slick
last year when the cruise ship Nordkapp was holed
to contend with?
on a visit to Deception Island. Crew and passengers
“It’s been an extremely complex, difficult and
were evacuated from the vessel which spilled oil into an
demanding exercise carried out in the most severe
extremely sensitive maritime environment.
weather conditions possible,” said Southampton’s CO Cdr
Exercise Cape Reach mimicked much of the Nordkapp
Richard Morris.
incident, and threw in some additional challenges.
“Without the personal determination, endurance and
Playing the part of the stricken cruise ship was the
professionalism of each and every man and woman on
fishery protection vessel Pharos SG carrying 180 tourists.
board, we would not have achieved the success that we
She had just dropped off a party hoping to hike
across the Thatcher Peninsula and was sailing
Once Cape Reach was over, the Mighty Ninety’s
around to meet them when her engines failed and
sailors headed ashore for activities tranquil (a visit to
she was blown on to rocks near Grytviken.
the abandoned whaling station, a trek to Shackleton’s
Some passengers decided there and then to
grave, the obligatory queue in the post office to
abandon ship, jumping into the icy water and
receive a stamp in the passport) and activities not-
wading ashore to await rescue on the rocky
so-tranquil (snowboarding and kayaking).
coast, the rest remained on the crippled
And where better to present the Grytviken
Trophy (for efficiency in naval gunfire support)
As luck would have it Southampton
than overlooking the namesake town.
and her escorting tanker RFA Gold
After four days in South Georgia the destroyer
Rover were on patrol in the area...
and tanker headed for the Falklands, before
and the destroyer was bolstered by the
Southampton bade farewell to the islands and
presence of Falklands-based infantry
headed for the west coast of Africa to begin the long
journey home.
The Mighty Ninety’s nine-month deployment ends when
she returns to Portsmouth this month.
● Southampton ploughs through the rough Atlantic on fi nal
approach to a replenishment at sea with Gold Rover
Pictures: LA(Phot) Chris Winter, FRPU Drake
012_NN_Dec.indd 1 19/11/07 17:26:54
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