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Author Topic: Nautical "Strange but True!"  (Read 151576 times)

BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #400 on: August 18, 2009, 07:39:34 pm »

Maybe Bryan. Now when I was in Marine Ops I was responsible for giving instructions to lots of fisheads and anchorclankers. In the main a splendid bunch who just needed the right handling; once they recognised the superiority of my profession they were putty in my hands...  {-)  {-)  %)  :P  :kiss:

Cheers,

Barry
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Jonty

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #401 on: August 18, 2009, 11:15:32 pm »

  Just got up to date with you, Bryan, whilst listening to the Prom by the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. Seemed to go together somehow!

  I love reading your stuff, but may I make a suggestion? A line of space between paras would make it easier for tired old eyes to keep track.
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I eat my peas with honey,
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #402 on: August 19, 2009, 05:56:20 pm »

  Just got up to date with you, Bryan, whilst listening to the Prom by the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. Seemed to go together somehow!

  I love reading your stuff, but may I make a suggestion? A line of space between paras would make it easier for tired old eyes to keep track.
OK. I'll try it. Ta for the "heads-up". BY.
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Notes from a simple seaman

Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #403 on: August 19, 2009, 07:21:29 pm »

Although we were originally destined for Portsmouth we had a couple of late detours foisted on us. Our 1st stop was to be at Loch Ewe and load some of their stock of FFO. This was to be my one and only ever visit. My lasting recollection is of a very rural place, miles from anywhere and festooned with modern "A" frame wooden holiday homes. The poor RN Lt. who was in charge of this place was overjoyed to have a visitor...albeit for one night only. (Is the Loch Ewe refuelling base still open for business?). Those that could get off rapidly found the solitary pub and had a great night. Shades of "Local Hero" again.

The next stop was really odd. Down the coast to Craigandoran (spelling?) to load a very special cargo. It soon became clear to all on board that sometime in the not too distant future we would be sort of meeting up with USS "Nimitz". We were to load their "Year Books". The USA really does try to look after their service personnel in a way we either ignore or can't afford. (I tend to the former). As with the US schools / universities and so on a "Year Book" is published ...a bit like an enhanced UK school magazine. Each pupil (in this case each member of the ships company) gets his or her own copy. But this is no ordinary school mag. Each is leather bound (blue in this case) and each is the size of a volume of Encyclopdia Britanicca. And just as heavy. And there were over 6,000 of them. So the reason for our stop at Craiganthingy became evident. Quiet and "out of the way". The delivery to us was via 3 airlifts carried out by USN Chinooks. All with female pilots...one of whom was gorgeous. A Chinook wouldn't fit on the Springs deck in the conventional fore and aft manner....so it had to be a cross deck landing. Another reason for doing this "in port". I'm not going into details of wind envelopes and ship movement here. Out of all the books, only one was dropped....into the water. It was rescued, but sodden. We tried to dry it out but I'm afraid some poor matelot was disappointed. I reckon that the books weighed in excess of 4.5 tons....but it was the sheer volume (no pun intended) that made 3 flights necessary. This had a "knock-on" effect, as you will see later. Truth to be told though, I'm sure 1 aircraft could have easily done it, but the chance of an interesting "training" flight was too good an opportunity to pass up.

When we eventually got to Portsmouth ( a week later than scheduled) we discovered that everything to do with "Armilla" had been given a pretty high priority. Not as high as it was for the Falklands, but high enough. This being back in 1987 the actual (political) reasons for the Armilla patrol are a bit vague in my mind. Protection of commercial shipping was obvious, but the rest of it escapes me. At the time, Iran was considered to be the threat to normal commerce, although the "incidents" were generally passed off by the Iranians as the work of "freelancers" or some such. The majority of "incidents" occurred in the northern part of the Straits of Hormuz. Ver fast (Scandinavian built I think) speedboats equipped with a ship to ship missile and probably some small arms would hide behind either "friendly" ships or one of the many small islands in the area then come screaming outand cause mayhem and death on commercial tankers just going about their day to day business. But by 1987 it had all expanded to the extent that many countries had a naval presence in the area. I don't remember if it was a NATO thing or not. All I knew was that we were going there.

Dinner time. Continue in a minute. BY.
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Notes from a simple seaman

Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #404 on: August 19, 2009, 08:01:32 pm »

Dinner delayed (don't ask).
We immediately began re-storing for a 6 month deployment....with a difference. Now may I remind you that "Tidespring" was neither an ammunition ship or an aircraft carrier. But we were now being "equipped" to be 3 things. A front-line refuelling ship and an ammo and aircraft carrying ship. Normally the stay of embarked aircraft on this class would be of "short" duration. Not like an "O" class that had the built in facilities to operate aircraft for months on end.

We were to embark 2 aircraft. No problem. Except that one was a "Jungly" Sea King (A stripped out Sea King that became an airborne truck piloted by Marines) and fitted for weaponry. The other was a full wartime fitted Lynx. Even the dullest among us knew that each aircraft needed different skills and training to maintain and service 2 entirely different sorts of aircraft. And 2 outfits of spares and so on. And they each had different weapon capabilities. So we had to embark 2 seperate teams of maintenance guys. Most of these people were Ratings and POs. Accommodation was at a premium now. The more junior ratings were more or less bunged into a "mess-deck" that was bunked for 15, but I think we got 25 camped in there. Not much in the way of washing or toilet facilties for them either. But the received opinion was that they would rather be with us than crammed into a war canoe. So that was a good start morale-wise. For once the aircrew fitted in with the RFA "ways" quite seamlessly, and the RN ratings were made equally welcome by "our lot".

The ship itself was more or less taken over by a MoD team who had previously decided what extra "bits'n'bobs" were to be fitted. To be honest, they really hadn't a clue what they were doing. All theory, not an ounce of practical experience between the lot of them. A bunch of "Boffins" combined with a team of my favourite people (Corps of Naval Constructors) was not a good start. To begin with neither set had any idea how a ship like Spring operated. I don't think they ever actually appreciated that it was just a specialised tanker with a hangar and flight deck on the back end. The fact that the entire ships complement were all well experienced seamen with great knowledge of both RFA and RN procedures mattered not one jot. Nor were they aware that the Persian Gulf in summer is a damn sight hotter than Portsmouth....and so is the sea.

Now dinner is ready!. Continue soon.
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Notes from a simple seaman

omra85

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #405 on: August 19, 2009, 09:44:44 pm »

As interesting as ever - thanks Bryan.
The line spacing DOES work - and I never even realised that I had "tired, old eyes"!
Danny
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #406 on: August 21, 2009, 08:12:20 pm »

I'm sorry if I now and again repeat myself. Perhaps my mind works in circles.
During this "preparation" period we were also fitted with this new "secret" gizmo that, when fired, was to temporarily blind the pilot of an incoming aircraft. Basically a super-duper version of the laser-pens that some idiots are apparently aiming at airliners. This "thing" needed to be kept "cool". Also, the "gun" part (looked like a shoulder launched missile thing) took more than a few seconds to show "ready to fire". And the "firer" had to stand on the hangar roof to aim and fire the thing. More or less where the incoming aircraft would be aiming. But what was ignored was the fact that the already hot water in the "cooling" pipework was then heated to almost boiler operating temperatures. Thank goodness we never had occassion to even attempt to use it. Another couple of million down the tubes.

And then there were the "anti shrapnel/splinter blankets that were supposed to be draped over the side rails in "vulnerable" areas. To protect this ship the entire ship would have to have a fitted blanket. And then there was the labelling on the "anti everything" blankets. The packaging stated 1943. Wow! We really are being equipped with "state of the art" stuff. All this garbage was rapidly consigned to "stores" (just in case). The ship itself was fully protected against attacks by either "Boghammers" or supersonic fighter/bomber aircraft by the 3 WW2 Oerlkon 20mm guns....manned by semi-trained ships catering staff. Loads of ammo. All made in Greece as there was no UK manufacturer. So now we were fully confident that we could see-off any Johnny Foreigner. Yeah. Sure we were.

But then there was the aircraft weaponry. Obviously each aircraft had different requirements. Different torpedoes, different missiles...different everything apart from the GPMG stuff. This was all "loaded and stowed" into our wooden livestock pens that were open to every Tom,Dick and Harry that happened to be passing. But we're "pros" right? So everything was treated with reverence. Anything painted white was given a widish berth. But (and it's a big "but"), everything apart from simple bullets and shells has to be fitted with a second component. Normally called a "detonator", but quite often a more complicated bit of kit. These "things" have to be stored well away from the main item. Very wise. "Our" detonator locker was a steel box about half the size of a tea chest made of the sort of steel that biscuits come in. It was really meant to hold the detonators for Scare Charges. (A scare charge is about the same size as one of those old Exide batteries (about 2" square and 6" long) and is really just to deter unwanted underwater swimmers from getting too close). The detonators for these are about the same size as a half used pencil...but will likely blow your foot off if you drop one. So I had nowhere to put any of the "fancy" stuff except in the Flight Deck pyro lockers.  All explosives are in a "category", so no 2 categories can be stowed in the same compartment. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place! The MoD said we had to load them. The explosive "experts" were suddenly nowhere to be found. So it was a case of ""xxxxx" it" and bung them into any odd corner that looked reasonably safe(ish)...in a ship carrying not just FFO and Deisel but a few thousand tons of aviation fuel. No worries.

It may be pertinent to mention here that both "Tidespring" and "Tidepool" had been put on the disposal list in about 1981. In fact one of the ships was already en-route to her new owners (Chile) with only a skeleton crew on board when the Falklands thing blew up. The ship then went on to become a vital resource in that conflict. If the 2 "Tides" had been taken away then the only major re-fuelling ships would have been the 3 "OL" class. Not enough. But here we were in 1987 still using these 2 ships that were originally designated as "redundant" being used as "front line" refuelling ships. Do you get the sense that all these "Staff Colleges", "Think Tanks" and MoD Mandarins really haven't a clue about such things as "What If" scenarios.

I would ask you now to ignore the fact that most of the RN is tied up in port because the Government just ran out of money. The ships are there and will (could) go to sea if required. But as most of them can only go a few yards before needing refuelling, who's going to get the pump out? The RFA does have 2 new major vessels (Wave Knight and Wave Ruler) and a couple of "One Stop" ships (Fort Victoria and Fort George). Most of the "Rovers" (although limited in size) have been sold off. The "Leafs" seem mostly to be laid up. I know that some new ships could be on the horizon (primarily because the new carriers will need them)..but will that happen?
The last generation of RFAs was predicated (during the Cold War) around a couple of carriers that were never built. So a lot of good ships were there but without a real purpose. Another Labour Government cock-up. Or is it that they just don't care? I always thought (and still do) that the prime responsibility of any Government was the "Safety of the Realm". Let down again, I'm afraid. BY.
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Notes from a simple seaman

derekwarner

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #407 on: August 22, 2009, 01:37:15 am »

Bryan..........when I resigned from the Australian D of D...it took more     ;D signatures  >>:-( about not talking  :-) re the Defence Act....& 100 years goal if you spill your guts..... :D ....than was required prior to my appointment

As you say...."Anything painted white was given a widish berth" ....yes same here....blue TSAM's with a pointy top were only dummies.....WHITE harpoon missiles with a domed top were real

I vividly remember the requirements prior to entry to a GMLS13 live missile magazine.........remove your watch + metallic trouser belt + any $ coins + pocket pens + safety shoes = ZERO metal.... >>:-( no danger tags were involved.........just the fiberglass KEY [around your neck] to the 200 Hz fire control computer system which was racked out & the knowledge that the only duplicate key was locked in a safe on the bridge & required the Captains written authority to access it

Walking a staggered path between the two circular rows of WHITE birds ........the only sound was the 'shoooooooooooosh' of the air conditioning

I am amazed that you don't have your MI5, New Scotland Yard, a few SAS troops, MS16 + a few counter insurgent officers all posing as local postmen around your door  %% {-) %% {-) .......you will remember that 'freedom of information is only if you are not found guilty'  :police:.........

Sorry....must go some people  :police: are knocking at the door.........Derek  {-) {-)
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Derek Warner

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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #408 on: August 22, 2009, 06:55:58 pm »

I would have thought that many people would know that "dummies" are blue and "warshots" white. Nothing secret there. In my little ditties I've been quite careful not to stray into areas that may attract "some attention"...and I have no intention of doing so.

What to "put in" and what to "leave out" isn't really a problem yet as I'm only up to 1987. Perhaps the early 1990s may cause me to pause and think a bit.

But if you go back to the early days of this voyage through my memory you will find that in 1972 I sort of mentioned that the then secret nuclear depth charge containers were being used as goal posts by shipyard workers. I may even have mentioned about the Stonnery leaving a 600lb nuclear bomb hanging in mid-air because it was knocking off time for lunch.

To be "visited" by the powers that be for what I write about would be a waste of everyones time and energy. But then, I'm not an American. My involvement with the UK MoD ceased totally in 1994. I'm pretty sure that the world has moved on a bit since then although I'm not too sure about the mind-set of those who are running things at the moment. Bryan.
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Notes from a simple seaman

Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #409 on: August 24, 2009, 08:05:45 pm »

Eventually we left Portsmouth and then embarked both our aircraft and joined up with the rest of the "Task Force". Not all of the ships were going to the Gulf...the clever ones were going on exercises in the eastern Med. But I think there were about a dozen ships once we collected the ships coming out of Devonport. (They came west to join us). So we all set off "outwards".

I know that I have written some of this before, but in a different context...so bear with me.
All the ships nicely set up in a formation....my goodness, how the RN loves "formations"! I suppose they are correct to do so but they get so "picky" about things. Getting rather stupid lamp messages at 2am saying one ship or another is out of position by 100 yards gets a bit weraing. If it was during an "exercise" then that would be marginally acceptable, but when we were just on a peacetime transit....Pillocks.

During my "last rounds" of the ship on what had started off as a quite benign evening it was very clear that the wind had "got up a bit". All the ships were sailing under "darkened ship" conditions. For those who don't know, that means that all ships lighting apart from the nav.lights is invisible from the outside. One of the "last rounds" tasks is to make sure that this is so. But there is always at least one idiot that thinks the rules don't apply to him.

On this occassion there were no real problems, but after making sure all the bars were shut I went outside again to find the wind and sea had become a bit nasty. I've mentioned before what good sea-keeping hulls the Tides had especially when head to sea...top hamper made broadside seas an entirely different proposition....but we were "head to sea, so not too bad. This was when I found a very frightened young RN rating, freezing cold, soaked to the skin and only wearing a "T" shirt and shorts. Cowering behind whatever shelter he could find. He'd only been aboard for a few hours and so didn't know the way back to his "mess". Poor little soul. Probably wanted his mother to tell him again not to join the navy. But my last remaining compassionate bone told me to take him "home" ....but not without reminding him to carry a torch next time. By now the wind was starting to howl, and with us still being in the English Channel the seas were beginning to take on the characteristics of the Severn Bore. All looked a bit threatening. Looking across at some of the other ships in company it was obvious from looking at their nav. lights that the smaller ones (frigates etc) were beginning to have a tough time of it.

Eventually the carrier ordered a speed reduction to 8 knots. (from 12). This made things marginally more comfortable. Fully loaded and in calm water I would guess that our bow would be a good 20' above the water. Now it was regularly digging in pretty deeply. Where had this weather come from? Nothing in the forecasts. Now it was really getting uncomfortable. Nothing that wasn't "dangerous", but made just that bit more "off" because it was so unexpected. Fortunately, as was our practise, the ship had been well "secured for sea", so I had no real worries about that. Needless to say, the "formation" went all pear-shaped. As we were plodding along at the designated speed it became evident that others were lagging behind...so we reduced speed to 6 knots and kept at that for the rest of the night. Although we could see the other ships on radar it was impossible to see them visually. Rain and sea-spray (spray? more like machine gun bullets) put visibility down to less than half a mile. And the noise! Forget "Master and Commander"....this was for real. Our anemometers regularly went over the 100mph mark.
We were now pitching at a constant 15* angle. 15* may not sound a lot but on a ship over 500' long the ends of the ship are going very rapidly up and down through maybe 50 feet. One moment your feet are leaving the deck as you become weightless, and the next moment your kness buckle as the bloody ship comes up again.Those of you who have been through a China Sea typhoon (and there are more than a few seafarers on this forum) will know what I mean. (And I'm not forgetting what can be suffered during a N.Atlantic winter). But it's the sheer noise that will be remembered. Forget Clarkson and his exhaust howls. This noise comes from the bowels of the earth and ranges from an eerie wail to a banshee shriek. The rain and spray strips off the ships paint. And yet one is expected to "get some rest". Hah!. Most seafarers master the art of "synchronized breathing". Breathe in when you are being propelled upwards, and the exhaling takes care of itself on the way down. As do bowels, but we won't go into that.

A storm of this ferocity never really lasts all that long....not like the unremitting, if less severe, bad weather one can expect in other areas of the globe. By early daylight we were basically out of it. The wind had dropped to a more peaceable Force 8, and although the sea conditions were still making life uncomfortable it was no worse than many other days.
It may surprise you to learn that (honestly) there are more "pleasant" days at sea than "rough" ones....unless you are trotting back and forth across the N. Atlantic.

During the night we had been driven backwards nearly 40 miles by the combination of the sea surge and the wind, even though we were making 6 knots through the water. Scary. In fact, we were nearly at the point we'd started from. Apart from an awful lot of sea-sickness among the junior RN ratings (they had to clean it up, which brought on another bout), we came through with only paintwork damage. Other ships had to go into port for emergency repairs.

A bit of "normality" was restored by mid-morning, and many thoughts and anxieties were expressed about the well-being of crew members families etc. who lived on or near to the S. Coast. Understandable. The "Marisat" was made available (free) to those who were worried. In almost all cases it turned out that the families were more worried about  us that we were about them!.  So that was the "Hurricane" that wasn't from my viewpoint in 1987.

So on we went, somewhat depleted , but the laggards would catch us up during the Gibraltar stop-over.
But then, at Gib; we became the laggards.
More later. BY.

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MikeK

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #410 on: August 25, 2009, 09:36:17 am »

Another absorbing episode ! Bryan you certainly have the story teller's gift. As for the 'weightlessness' I always found it weird climbing ladders/stairs when it was alternatively climbing the north face of the Eiger, followed  by 'floating' with an invisible hand propelling you upwards.
Awaiting the next installment

Mike
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #411 on: August 25, 2009, 05:29:29 pm »

Another absorbing episode ! Bryan you certainly have the story teller's gift. As for the 'weightlessness' I always found it weird climbing ladders/stairs when it was alternatively climbing the north face of the Eiger, followed  by 'floating' with an invisible hand propelling you upwards.
Awaiting the next installment

Mike
Hi, Mike. I agree that ladders were the worst, especially when rolling. The LSLs were by far the worst I encountered. All the internal ladders were set athwartships. When rolling really heavily going up a ladder ranged from being almost horizontal to leaning backwards. And if we were ponding a bit there was a good chance that the steel fire shutters would come down hard enough for decapitation!. Happy days. Glad your'e still reading. Bryan.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #412 on: August 27, 2009, 07:45:57 pm »

To continue with our "visit" to Gib.
I spent a few years based there during the 1960s in my C&W days. ("LDP","Recorder" and "Mercury"). In the early days the border was open and then later when it was shut. When it was open it was nice to hire a car and "tour" the southern parts of Spain. No "high-rises" then. Nice and unspoiled. I took my driving test in Gib, and anyone knowing the place will understand why I'm very good at hill starts! Those were the days when many "spoof" LPs were produced. One I treasured and still sort of miss was made by Peter Ustinov acting the part of a radio commentator on the Gibraltar Grand Prix. When the British still had a major military presence in Gib just about everything about the place was "good", and it was an enjoyable (if confined) place to be; but from what I saw during my later visits it seemed very run-down and a bit seedy. I know a lot of money has been invested (Apartment blocks and Marinas etc) but the underlying aspects of the town were, on the whole, a bit depressing.

But to 1987 and what should have been a nice bit of R&R. I suppose it was for some people but not for the deck crew. Before we arrived I'd been informed that we would be required to load even more of the solid stuff that goes "bang". Oh,joy. So before anything started to happen I asked for the boss-man of the armaments depot to pay me a visit and "inspect" what we had been coerced into loading. This (very pleasant) chap took one glance at our makeshift magazines and was all in favour of evacuating the ship until some sort of acceptable standard could be reached. He just couldn't believe that we had just been battered by the worst hurricane to hit the English Channel in living memory. He wasn't very impressed when I jokingly remarked that we must have done "something" right. But I wholeheartedly agreed with him that leaving "things" the way they were was just plain unacceptable. Fortunately, when he was given the full story he agreed that the ship was in no way responsible for the shambles and his report and comments would go way further "up the line" than we (the ship) could. Much later I read his report and I@d be very surprised if a few "demotions" didn't follow. But by then it was of no consequence to us.

The first thing that happened was a major re-shuffling of berths. We were moved down to the berth nearest to the dry-docks (the S end) and the RN ships were all shunted up to the N end of the main breakwater. Although we were now closer to the town in walking distance, we were further away from the town if an "accident" happened. But the shunting of the RN to berths as far away form us as they could be was a real bright spot in my day.Also, of course, like us many of the matelots lost a days run ashore because of the shunting about. Most of our "nasties" were taken ashore and stowed away "somewhere safe".
Some of you may well have visited St.Michaels cave (very impressive) or even walked along the galleries overlooking the Spanish border. But very few of you will have seen (or even heard of) the road system within the Rock. Mile upon mile of roads easily wide enough to allow 2 large trucks to pass....and on different levels. There is also a sort of "second town" in there, as well as all the depots for everything the 3 services need. One of the first question I asked when I first saw a (small) part of all this was why the buildings all had "normal" sloping roofs. I guess the answere should have been obvious. A week after it rains "outside", it rains "inside". I imagine a lot of the tunnelling work was begun in Napoleonic times, and has continued forever more, although WW2 must have kept a lot of people pretty busy. Being a major base for all 3 services it is probably on a par with the major UK bases....except this one is 3 dimensional, and not spread out flat. But there is very little evidence from the outside of all this. Fuel stocks, water reservoirs, armament depot, victualling depot, general stores for all 3 services....all inside the Rock. I can't help wondering how hollow the place actually is. Then there is the question that is seldom asked. What happened to all the dug out rock?
Easy. Most of the useful parts of Gib are built on it.
To be continued. BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #413 on: August 28, 2009, 07:24:11 pm »

Digression completed!
A team of people who actually knew what they were doing descended upon us and in pretty short order had made our stables and cow byres more suited to the purpose of stowing armaments. And at last we had proper segregation between categories. I eventually reminded "our man who knows" about our little tin box that was laughingly called our "Det Locker". "Bother" (or some word that is both shorter and sounds different but means the same). A new one was made ashore and fitted. Much bigger than the original. Fitting it wasn't so easy as the original was mounted on top of the avcat tanks. And doing any welding or drilling there was a real no-no. So some space was found in the flight deck area. We also had no way of disposing a weapon with a malfunction. The principle behind this sort of thing is simple enough. Put the duff item on a trolley, wheel it to the ships side, tip the trolley up and let the "thing" slide off into the sea. This gets a bit more complicated when the item to be deep-sixed is (for example) a very heavy aerial torpedo. So we got the same sort of gear fitted that the "Forts" have. That was a relief, as from experience I knew that a fair proportion of heavy weaponry would malfunction in some way, and it really isn't pleasant to have a dodgy bit of kit lying around. The decision not to load us with more "stuff" was welcome. Not because of any danger, after all: one big bang being replaced by a bigger one wouldn't make much difference to us. No, it was space available. If we ever needed to replenish our stock (heaven forbid) then we would have to get it from our closest floating armaments supermarket. But things would really have had to go "belly-up" if that became necessary.

So off we went in hot pursuit of our fellow travellers and "guardian angels". R/Vd with them a bit south of Cyprus...they had just been slowly chugging along wasting time waiting for us. After a mammoth day of refuelling them all we set off for Port Said and an uneventful transit of the canal. The temperature change between the N and S of the canal can be astonishing. 60* to 90* in 80 miles. And also, up goes the sea temp. High temperatures bring problems to all sorts of ships, for different reasons. I'm not qualified to comment on engineering problems except that the mechanistas were beginning to bang on about the condensers not working efficiently (cooling water not cool enough I suspect)....and "Spring" was getting a bit long in the tooth. The same applied to a "dummy run" with our new laser thingy. But as this was more than half expected it was no great surprise when the little green light just threw its hand in.
Generally the wind in the Red Sea blows from N to S at about 15 mph. Roughly the same speed as a ship. So you finish up effectively bowling along in "dead" air. On an "old-fashioned" tanker like Tidespring that means that any venting from the cargo tank just happily glides along with you. Of course, this would probably not be something to bother a commercial tanker as it would be empty and clean, being outward bound. But it was of concern to us. But over the years ships have developed a "cunning plan" to deal with this. Any prudent navigator will build into his "nav plan" some extra time and mileage. Every now and again during the hottest part of the day the ship (or ships) will turn around and steam the opposite way. Effectively letting a 30mph wind blow through the ship. As always, many of the "old ways" turn out to be the "best ways". "Blowing Tubes" could also cause harsh words between the Bridge and Engine room!

Of concern to me was the potential overheating of the "chaff rockets". As you will know, chaff rockets and their launchers have been around for a long time now. But with various mods to both the launchers and the rockets they are quite desirable things to have on board. The rockets around 6' long and 6" dia. Pretty heavy, but capable of being carried by one person. Oddly enough they are painted blue. Even though they are "live". Perhaps its because they are "passive" or classed as pyrotechnics I can't remember. Whetever they are they go out with a heck of a noise..especially if a full launcher load is fired as a salvo. The chaff crews had ambivalent thoughts about all this. When it was for practice they loved the loading and firiing bit, but hated the scrubbing down and repainting of the blast shield etc. Most RFAs have 2 launchers, one each side in the vicinity of the wheelhouse. We also had 20mm guns, but they are no problem. Useless, but no problem. As the chaff rockets are designed for rapid and faily close in response the magazine lockers holding them have to be pretty close to the launchers. These lockers are pretty much like the standard square lockers but longer and capable of taking between 16 and 20 rockets each. I think our standard fit was for 80 of them. The lockers being so close to the launchers means that they are exposed to the sun. And they are prone to degradation if overheated. they (probably) wouldn't go "pop" thank goodness. But once the temperatures inside the lockers went over 30 odd* they had to be kept cool(ish).
For one reason or another, mainly to assist in damage control, RFAs have a plethora of "shot mats". Big (about 8' sq.) and knitted out of 2" rope. Proper rope..hemp, manilla, sisal, coir and so on are measured by their circumference...wire rope is designated by its diameter. So our "cooling" arrangements were to simply drape these shot mats over the lockers and let a fire hose constantly dribble over them. Although the water coming out of the hoses was extremely hot, evaporation did help to keep the locker temperatures within limits.
Enough for today. tbc. BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #414 on: August 29, 2009, 07:56:16 pm »

Eventually we departed the Red Sea, turned left, and after another few days turned left again to head N towards the Hormuz Straits. So far this hadn't been a cruise by any interpretation of the word. More like a hot weather Portland work-up. But nobody really minded this time, including the notoriously bolshy galley staff, as this time it could all be "for real". The aircraft were having a pretty rough time of it. So were the aircrews. Helicopters really,really don't like hot weather. The air is thin (thin air?) and that limits their capability. AUW (All Up Weight) has to be adjusted downwards by sometimes quite a lot so that they can actually operate...and launch. All basic stuff, but needs some careful working out. This was just one of the reasons we did so much night flying, the air being that much cooler. But it did put a strain on those parts of the ships company who were actively involved because they still had their "day jobs" to do. Fortunately we also had a couple of dedicated RN HCOs embarked (Helicopter Controllers) who sit behind the radar screen for hour upon hour rather than being part of the flight deck team. The flight deck team was all RFA, but the RN maintenance guys had to be up there also...just in case they were needed. Up until now(ish) most deck officers at 2/Off level had been trained by the RN as an HCO. Perfectly reasonable, and generally proved very competent. But the 2/O is also a watchkeeper. One embarked aircraft is a bit of an imposition if embarked for an extended period, but having 2 makes the bridge organisation a bit difficult. When the "new" "Forts" (Grange and Austin) appeared with the capability of having up to 5 aircraft in the air at the same time it was obviously intolerable given our man-power, and so it became routine for RN HCOs to be embarked. The "Tides" were just more or less "ocassional" flying ships. Often enough with one aircraft on board for a lengthy stay, but this was the first time I'd seen it with 2 different sorts of aircraft, each having its own needs. It all meant a heavier burden on the ships company; but it was tolerable given some "give and take" on both sides.

Before we arrived at the Straits the RN Task Force Commander made a rather radical change to the "plan" that had been agreed  earlier. Originally we were all (half a dozen of us) going to go through the Straits in "Form One" (line astern) with HM Destroyer carrying the Task Force Commander at no.1. We were no.3. All ships to be at standard distance apart. (1000 yards?). The change ordered that "Tidespring" would be no1, and the Commanders ship would be at no 3. On top of that we were to be positioned at 2x standard distance ahead of the following ship. Still wondering why I love the RN so much? So, come the rather lovely cool dawn there we all were. All dressed in our white or blue overalls. Anti-flash hoods and gloves worn. All carrying our personal emergency air supply thing, Gas mask, anti-everything injection kit, vac-packed NBC suits and inflateable general issue life jacket. Weighed a ton. Any airline would have charged us a fortune in excess baggage fares just for toting this stuff. Ye Gods. It was nigh on impossible to even walk around never mind trying to do something worthwhile like navigating or fighting a fire or standing a watch in the Engine room. So most of us had 2 hold-alls. One with all the stuff we had to carry and one with all the personal stuff we would like to save if the worst came to the worst.  Guns and chaff crews were ready. Ship at full "Action Stations". Air conditioning off and the ship closed down with the air re-circ units howling away all over the ship. Fire parties suited up. Everyone VERY hot, but surprisingly not particularly nervous....on the outside at least. So on we went, and went, and went for a few hours until it was evident that nothing was going to happen. Keeping the ship at "relaxed" Action Stations gave us all to get a decent breakfast, and the ship was opened up again. It was horrifying what a stench had built up within the ship within just a few hours. It wasn't noticeable at the time, but the "non-smell" of fresh air highlighted it.
tbc. BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #415 on: September 01, 2009, 05:00:30 pm »

The first stop for the ship was to be Bahrein as we were going to have a 50% crew change. Most of us had been on the ship for well over 6 months now, and our time was up. And after the last 6 months I was ready for a spot of leave (again).

But the "fickle finger of fate" still had a final trick to play. There were 27 of us leaving in the first tranche. We would be leaving the ship about 100 miles short of Bahrein in the "Jungly" Sea King. 27 of us with full voyage gear.
Remember what I said about helicopters and hot "thin" air?
It was quite clear from the motion of the aircraft that it just didn't want to leave the deck. Eventually the front end lifted but the back end just skipped towards the side nets. Oops. I guess the pilot had to "over-torque" to just clamber clear, but we were only just clear of the ships side when the thing just flopped down towards the water. I now know within my soul of souls that "ground effect" works. I think we must have wave-hopped for at least a couple of miles before we had enough forward speed to increase height and begin a slow 180* turn and get to the usual 500ft transit height. Then all seemed to be well and hearts resumed their normal beat. Until we got into the thermals coming off Bahrein. I don't really mind a bit of buffeting if I'm in a 747, but suffering it in an overloaded Sea King is strictly for those with well trained sphincters. Confidence is also a bit eroded when the pilot is showing some nerve ends. But at least his next decision was the correct one. With the weight of the aircaft and the prevailing air conditions at Bahrein International Airport he had declared a "PAN" call. (A PAN is a step down from "emergency" but a couple of steps away from a MAYDAY). He requested a "running landing". To you,me and everyone else a helicopter lands and takes off in a more or less vertical fashion. And slowly. Sea Kings are just not supposed to land like a "proper" aircraft. And as the passengers bums are only about 4 ft above the ground the sensation of speed is increased. With only 4 little wheels at the front and a titchy little thing at the back helicopter tyres are not really made for this sort of treatment. So it was inevetable that at least one would go pop. I was ready for it and actually heard (and felt) the bang just before we came to a halt.

I'm in no way a religious person, but something or someone was surely looking after us that day.
We had to go to an hotel for a few hours before heading back to the airport to catch a proper plane home....but after a few cans with the lads, my only recollection of Bahrein was that the entire city seemed to be festooned with "Fosters" adverts. Rather odd for a Muslim/Arabic country I thought.
And that was the last time I had the pleasure of sailing on a "Tide". I think they both did eventually end up in Chile....and they are welcome to them. BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #416 on: September 11, 2009, 08:18:46 pm »

After my allotted leave span (about 4 months in this case) and after a fair amount of TLC my heart rate hade just about returned to normal. It always amazed me that the MoD knew just when to call, and the phone had a slightly different "tone" to it. I began to think that someone had inserted a "chip" into me while I wasn't paying attention.

But I was to join the "Olwen". Another "O" class tanker. (I've already posted a pic of her somewhere else on here). One "O" boat is the same as the others so I knew what to expect. The surprise was that she was coming into the Tyne for a 3 month refit in Smiths Docks.  Well, as you can imagine, that got me smiling again! All sour thoughts about the MoD were banished.
However, in my euphoria, I let my usual "going away again" session with "the lads" take place (they bought), but I didn't let on. So I joined the ship, did what was necessary, and said farewell to the well knackered guy I was relieving. Got the ship into dry-dock and made sure those who were staing had somewhere to go. The "old hands" had already arranged their "feet under the table" places, but the "virgins" (mainly Southerners) were feeling a bit lost. This was a foreign and alien country to most of them. The language appeared to be English, but not as they knew it. So they were a bit apprehensive . Easily got them into B&Bs in Whitley Bay, gave them info. on transport etc. and left them to it. Within 2 days most of them (maybe a dozen out of 15) had lost their anxieties and more "feet under the table" seemed to be the order of the day. Most of them were RN ratings who were with us just to look after aspects of the flight complex that was really their bailywick).

So, after just one solitary night away from home I re-appeared in the "Monky Arms" and had to make some quite expensive apologies. Worth it though!
The refit itself was pretty ordinary without any of the major cock-ups that had dogged some others I've been involved in ( read my 1972 report of the "Resouce" refit in Barclay-Curles to see how things can go wrong). Well, OK we had a couple. The first was an event I've related earlier, but may well bear repeating. For those of you who knew Smiths Docks of old this is "old news". There used to be more than one "main gate" to the yard. One of them was adjacent to the N.Shields ferry landing stage. With a pub next to it. The other was a long hike away up the hill . With a pub next to it. Yonks ago the ferry gate was closed, probably causing havoc with the pubs revenue. The much larger pub outside the top gate seemed to thrive. I don't know how many people Smiths employed directly in those days, but it was a lot. Before the whistle blew there was always a mighty crush at the gate. Whistle blows and it's a St.James Park exit. The pub was only about 50 yards from the gate. It had a very long bar. Before the "rush" the bar staff would literally cover the entire bar with opened bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale and each bottle had an upturned schooner on top of it. Within 20 minutes the bar had to be replenished. And again. I guess everyone had a "method of payment", but I never found out what it was. I would also imagine that this "rush" was not unique to Smiths. Although the yard workers in the then "dry" parts of Glasgow must have found a way around it. The same "rush" occurred at the end of the day shift. It doesn't take much imagination to work out what some afternoon productivity was like. However, during the evening shift ....or with people doing a bit of overtime...there were many fewer workers. Most of them worked in pairs, just finishing off jobs that the day shift hadn't completed. It was also very obvious to us that the "pairs" were more often than not "singles"...and these "singles" changed every half hour or so. It was no good asking a foreman or ship-manager why this should be, as the same mantra would be spouted..."Gone to the stores" or some such. Even though we all knew that these places were shut for the day.

Again, I must repeat that I'm not singling out Smiths. I saw this sort of stuff going on in all the yards I've had the pleasure of doing a refit in. But I do think there must have been a fair amount of intimidation and perhaps even some mild bribery taking place. But be that as it may. The pub prospered. But as with all these practices, it would all end in tears.
One dark and stormy night (I've been wanting to find a place to put that bit in for ages!) our night duty officer heard, while doing his rounds, a weak call for help coming from one of the cargo tanks. He discovered a "caulker" who had managed to "caulk" his own fingers between 2 bits of steel. No doubt shortly after his visit to the "stores", and where his mate was still waiting to be served.
I hope you can imagine the chaos this engendered. Red faces all round I reckon, but as the ship was officially in dockyard hands, the ships personell were not involved. Noticed a few missing faces later though. And I cannot possibly comment on the profit level of the pub.

The second episode happened to me. To my shame. A few weeks after the "caulking" business I was invited to join a couple of managers at the "Tynemouth Lodge" (another well known and historic pub) for a couple of lunch-time beers and lunch. Well, to cut a long story short, I was so well and truly stitched up. So much so that I had to be put in a taxi to take me home...although I still can't remember that bit. But "they" had chosen the day well. The day an inspection was to take place and which I was required to attend.
Oh, woe.
I was lucky to get just a mild written reprimand. I think I was chosen as I lived locally! Some lessons are learned the hard way.
By the way, my car was driven back to my house and the keys put through the letter box by"persons unknown"! Says it all really.
Next time....after refit.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #417 on: September 11, 2009, 10:47:53 pm »

Bryan,

The pub next to the landing stage - was that the infamous Jungle?

Cheers,

Barry M
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #418 on: September 11, 2009, 11:05:15 pm »

Barry. No. The Jungle (Real name "Northumberland Arms....I think) was the next one along before you get to "The Porthole"...which is still going strong. The reason I didn't put the pubs name up is because I can't remember it. There were 2 of them, one at each end of the 2 ferry landing stages. I think Mike K may have the answer....? Cheers. Bryan.
PS....Why did you ask?
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Shipmate60

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #419 on: September 12, 2009, 12:07:08 am »

Bryan,
You fell for the oldest trick in the book.
Must admit some tried but even I didn't fall for that one.
You have just gone down a league in my book for that.
Poor old fish head
From
Your favourite

Clanky

Bob
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MikeK

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #420 on: September 12, 2009, 08:28:02 am »

Barry. No. The Jungle (Real name "Northumberland Arms....I think) was the next one along before you get to "The Porthole"...which is still going strong. The reason I didn't put the pubs name up is because I can't remember it. There were 2 of them, one at each end of the 2 ferry landing stages. I think Mike K may have the answer....? Cheers. Bryan.
PS....Why did you ask?

Not sure how to take that one ! Sorry Bryan I know the pub you mean but was never in it. I did call in the 'Jungle' a few times in my younger days, just to see how my fellow seafarers spent their time ashore in my home port, you understand  %)

Mike
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #421 on: September 12, 2009, 09:25:46 am »

Barry. No. The Jungle (Real name "Northumberland Arms....I think) was the next one along before you get to "The Porthole"...which is still going strong. The reason I didn't put the pubs name up is because I can't remember it. There were 2 of them, one at each end of the 2 ferry landing stages. I think Mike K may have the answer....? Cheers. Bryan.
PS....Why did you ask?

Bryan,
Some riivers like the Tyne and the Clyde in the UK bring memories to those of us of a certain fine vintage.  Like Mike K, my visits to the Jungle etc., was always one of scientific research into local customs and the more exotic fauna and flora.
Cheers,

Barry M
PS. Is Flora still there?
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #422 on: September 12, 2009, 05:15:15 pm »

Shipmate60:- How can you refuse an offer from those you trust? It's in my nature to trust people. Sometimes that trust is earned, but just as easily destroyed. Are you perhaps "casting the first stone"? Everyone has these little set-backs in life. But I told it, and there I will draw a line.
Mike and Barry:- Considering what you have both said re. dockside pubs I had an idea. Dangerous things to have. I thought that during next week I could toddle down to the area and take a few pics to show what the place looks like now. Apart from anything else, they will give me a bit of a record of "changes". If I can find them, I can also include pics of "how it used to be". Interested? Cheers, BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #423 on: September 12, 2009, 05:22:18 pm »

Bryan,
Some riivers like the Tyne and the Clyde in the UK bring memories to those of us of a certain fine vintage.  Like Mike K, my visits to the Jungle etc., was always one of scientific research into local customs and the more exotic fauna and flora.
Cheers,

Barry M
PS. Is Flora still there?
Barry. Sorry to shatter your dreams, but as Flora tended to spread herself out a bit she is now the Marketing director and Chief Overseer for her own Margarine company.
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MikeK

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #424 on: September 12, 2009, 05:26:38 pm »

Hi Bryan, that would be interesting to see, it is a few years since I had a wander around there. With regards the pub at the top of the walkway off the ferry, do you know if it is even still there as I'm sure it was boarded up last time I passed, so it might be a yuppie block of flats by now  <:(

Mike
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