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Home for
S Father Christmas
the US for further anti-submarine
comes to call, frigate
warfare trials.
HMS Richmond returns
The type 23 is the eight gen-
eration of Richmond to serve with
Quebec ......................... 1759
home from her eight-month
the Royal Navy, a history dating
Havana ......................... 1762
deployment ‘East of Suez’ as
back to a 26-gun warship of 1656
Atlantic ....................1941-43
military phraseology has it.
(although under the initial name of
Arctic ............................ 1942
Battle Honours
Initially the deployment saw the
Type 23 operating off Africa on
An eight-gun yacht was the next
Class: Type 23 frigate Operation Calash, working on the
incarnation, before a French frigate
Pennant number: F239 ubiquitous maritime security opera-
Dauphin was captured and renamed
Builder: Swan Hunters tions and aiding the fight against
in 1745, and spent the next five
shipbuilders, Tyne piracy in the seas around Africa.
years serving in the Leeward Island
Launched: April 6 1993 Working with the Silent Service,
Commissioned: June 1995 Richmond and Sceptre ran through
Hence the name passed on to a
Displacement: 3,500 tonnes some testing routines to trial the
32-gun fifth rate, built in Deptford
Length: 133 metres capabilities of the Sonar 2087.
in 1757.
Beam: 16.2 metres
Onwards and upwards and
It was this Richmond that won
Draught: 7 metres
Richmond headed into the north-
the name its first two battle hon-
Complement: 178 plus 38
ern Arabian Gulf on Op Telic,
ours; as part of the St Lawrence
squadded ashore
taking over from sister frigate HMS
campaigns, capturing Quebec, then
Propulsion: Two CODLAG
Cornwall on oil platform protection
the capture of Havana three years
– Combined Diesel, Electric
later. A role in the American War of
and Gas turbine engines
After four extended patrols
Independence was followed by cap-
Sensors: Radar 996 – long-
around the structures that pipe
ture by the French in 1781.
range 3D surveillance;
forth the valuable oil that is the
Next on the history books was a
radar 1007 – high-definition
lifeline for Iraq’s economic future,
14-gun brig of 1806-1814.
navigation radar; radar
Richmond conceded her guardship The name took a break (other
1008 – ship safety; sonar
hat to the next incumbent, HMS than a brief stint on a World War 1
2050 – omnidirectional,
Argyll, in November. trawler) until 1940 when the US
hull-mounted active sonar;
A gilded goodbye saw the frigate destroyer Fairfax was transferred
sonar 2087 – variable depth
conduct a formal visit to Ras Al into the wartime Navy under a
sonar; sonar 2170 – surface
Khaimah when they hosted Sheikh lease agreement, with the veteran
ship torpedo defence; UAT –
Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the first
passive surveillance; GPEOD
destroyer arriving in Plymouth on
visit to the Emirate by a Royal Navy
– general purpose electro-
the very last day of 1940.
warship in two years.
optical director used for the
The (now) Town-class destroy-
A final brief stint on Op Calash
4.5in gun; AIS – automatic
er took up convoy duties in the
is the last act in the warship’s long
identification system
Atlantic and Arctic. A spell in the
deployment before the welcoming
Armament: Seawolf;
Royal Canadian Navy was followed
Harpoon; 4.5in Mk8 Mod
lights of Portsmouth call her home by a place in the reserve list on the
1 gun; two 30mm guns;
in the wintry days of December. Tyne.
Seagnat; magazine torpedo
After a few months respite, the In July 1944 she was transferred
launch system
frigate will once more don her test- into the Russian Navy under the
Helicopter: Merlin HM1
ing hat, heading to the underwater name Zhivuchi, where she served
● HMS Richmond in the northern Arabian Gulf
Facts and figur
ranges off the Eastern Seaboard of until 1949.
Picture: LA(Phot) Chris Wenham
Cdr Tom Triggs and
AB William Becker AM
IN THE great port of Halifax, gateway to ship had been. Fragments of Mont Blanc rained
Nova Scotia and western Canada, life was
down on Halifax and the suburb of Dartmouth,
including a gun barrel blasted more than three
For most Haligonians the global conflagration
miles and a shaft of the anchor weighing half a
had brought prosperity to their city. The harbour
ton carried over two miles.
swelled with ships mustering for convoys from
Windows became shards of lethal glass.
the New World to the Old.
Homes burned. A tidal wave 60ft high raced
The casualty lists in the Halifax Chronicle-
through the harbour, sucking stunned survivors
Herald, giving voice to the death toll at
into the icy water and tossing the Imo on to the
Passchendaele, and women wandering through
Dartmouth shore.
the streets in black were a visible sign of the
In an instant, 1,600 lives were wiped out,
war. But otherwise conflict had largely passed
including six of the seven British sailors in
Halifax by.
the whaler. Only 26-year-old Yorkshireman
All that changed on the morning of Thursday,
AB William Becker survived. He swam to the
December 6, 1917.
Dartmouth side of the harbour where Canadians
At dawn the torpedo defences in the harbour
plucked him out.
were lowered and trade at sea resumed.
Both he and Cdr Triggs were subsequently
The freighter Mont Blanc, packed with more
honoured with the Albert Medal in gold. “They
than 2,500 tons of explosives, was anxious to
were fully aware of the desperate nature of
the work they were engaged in,” their citation
The merchantman Imo was keen to get under
read. “By their devotion to duty they sacrificed
way for New York to pick up supplies for Belgian
their lives in the endeavour to save the lives of
In the Narrows, the straits linking the inner
basin with the outer harbour, the two ships’
fates collided.
Misunderstanding and poor seamanship left
the Imo’s prow embedded in the bow of the
Mont Blanc. The clash of steel upon steel sent
sparks flying across the deck, igniting benzol
and picric acid.
Within minutes the fire on the Mont Blanc was
out of control. The 40-man French crew headed
for the lifeboats and rowed ashore, running
through the streets screaming about impending
A mile or so from the blazing hulk of the
Mont Blanc, cruiser HMS Highflyer immediately
dispatched a whaler with seven men led by Cdr
Tom Triggs from Southsea to assist.
There was little they could do to stop the
fire on the French ship, they found when they
arrived on the scene, but Triggs decided he
could save the Imo and began marshalling a tug
to haul her to safety.
Triggs and his six shipmates began hauling
the whaler towards the Imo, carrying a tow line.
They stopped at 9.04am and 35 seconds.
For at that instant, the Mont Blanc vapor-
No man-made explosion in the pre-nuclear
age was ever greater.
A fireball more than a mile high rose where the
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