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Author Topic: Nautical "Strange but True!"  (Read 151575 times)

Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #525 on: March 23, 2010, 03:17:35 pm »

The pic didn't show, try again:-
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #526 on: March 23, 2010, 07:15:57 pm »

Time for a bit of lightheartedness.
The following pics were taken on either one of the "Forts" (Austin or Grange, can't remember). The first one shows Capt.Pugwash and others all dressed up to be invincible. Actually, he (that Captain), was one of the nicest people you could meet. A very good, astute and aware of the sensibilities of others. He was also a very good ship-handler. Alas, he died just a few years after this pic was taken...only in his early70s.
The other 3 may perhaps be of some interest to warship modellers.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #527 on: March 23, 2010, 07:53:34 pm »

Another little diversion:-
I'd been looking for the plaque picture for ages...and now found! It was hung in the officers "lounge" of C/S "Recorder". The 1954 version of. It records a rather epic chase as you can see...but as always seems to happen, the story was hi-jacked by our colonial cousins on the other side of the Atlantic. They made a film called (I think) "The Sea Chase" starring John Wayne.
But in reality, it was 2 ships, neither of which was capable of much more than 9 knots. How frustrating that must have been on both sides. But it was an epic, and a testament to the sheer bloody doggedness of the "Recorder" that eventually wore down her opponent.
The second pic was one I took in Plymouth while Recorder was loading up bits of old scrap cable from (I think) a ship called the "Mackie Bennet". This ship was apparently involved in the aftermath of the Titanic sinking. Her role was in picking up floating bodies. But, according to the social strictures of the time, even the bodies were segregated by perceived "class". I imagine that those in dinner jackets were considered to be "First Class", and were therefore placed in a cabin, others were put into a hold or something.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #528 on: March 23, 2010, 08:41:34 pm »

The correct name was Mackay Bennett and she was chartered by the White Star Line to recover bodies from the scene of the Titantic's sinking.

Colin
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #529 on: March 24, 2010, 06:09:20 pm »

OK Colin, thanks for that. She was just basically a hulk when the pic was taken. I don't suppose you (or anyone else, for that matter) has a picture of her when she was still "operational"? I seem to recall that she may have been a converted sailing ship....probably wrong. BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #530 on: March 24, 2010, 06:16:22 pm »

After the demonstration shoot by the NJ we were sent off on our own to find an area of 2,500 miles clear of all shipping (including fishing boats). The warships all scuttled off to an area a long way away from us. A few hundred miles, at least. But trust the powers that be to nominate a firing zone slap bang across the main shipping route between Japan and points west (particularly the Persian Gulf).

For newer readers I’d better say what we were actually up to.
The rockets were called “Petrel”, and were a derivative from rockets developed to both explore the upper atmosphere, and also have a meteorological function. Purely civilian. But then the boffins at BAE decided that they could be adapted for use as a training device to train ships weapons teams in the interception of all sorts of rocket attack. The electronics pack fitted into the rocket could electronically simulate an attack by anything up to an incoming ICBM. As far as I’m aware, at that time there was no other “live” target available and all training was done with simulations.
These rockets were about 8ft long and perhaps a foot in diameter. For launch they were fitted with a pair of ancilliary rockets as boosters before the main engine kicked in. They were extremely quick and got over 100,000 feet in the blink of an eye before assuming a ballistic path into the target area, ( the “launch” rockets were jettisoned almost immediately after launch). And there my knowledge of them ends, although I did hear afterwards that the trainee ships were gob-smacked at the difference between a “real” target and a simulated one.

We eventually fired 6 over a period of 3 days. All in “singles” and not in multiples as was hoped. The later pics show multiples, but from another “shoot”. Being in the “launch compartment” in the flight deck complex we were very close to the “explosion off” point, and so we were all dressed up in the regulation anti-flash gear and so on. 7 hours of this in that climate reduced all of us in the launch area to quivering lumps of organic jelly.
 
But there was one consolation.
People better versed than me may be able to provide an answer. Can you get a sort of “Northern Lights” near the equator? Because we saw a “rainbow” that wasn’t a rainbow. This “thing” covered almost half the visible sky, almost rectangular in shape and was filled with all the colours of the rainbow, but not banded as such. All very random and moving about in a random sort of way. I still don’t know what it was or what caused it.
But back to more mundane things.
While the “Fort Grange” was in Manila she suffered a serious fire in her main-swtchboard. No injuries except for those caused by smoke inhalation, but there had been an explosion behind the board which sort of hampered her a bit. So she scooted off to Hong Kong to get fixed. This had unforeseen ramifications for many of us on “Olwen”. Although, in retrospect, it was a case of “bad news” coming earlier than we’d expected. The Commodore(RFA) had been embarked in the Grange during her inspection, but he was also there to give “people” the results of the long awaited revue of the RFAs manning policy. He cut short his time on the “Grange” and transferred to us. Bad news all round. This “person” held forth his views to each department separately, but presented such views as “official policy”. (Which, at the time they were not). Everyone on board from the Captain to the lowest ranking rating was included. I’ve mentioned before that RFA crews are career seafarers as opposed to fairly “short-term” RN personell. So, obviously, the average age of a long standing RFA guy is going to be higher than the average age of an RN person. At a guess, I would say that the average age within the RN is mid to late 20s, within the RFA it’s probably closer to 40. What he said really horrified a lot of the deck officers (who are all I can really vouch for) who had joined the RFA from other companies and so had not “served their time” with the RFA. Many serving second officers and first officers were in this category. But when he pronounced his dictat that no deck officer over the age of 35 would ever reach higher levels…..well, that was great for our already pretty low morale, as you can imagine. He even mooted that some ranks would be abolished and others downgraded. Wonderful. Then the “killer”…that employment for officers over the age of 40 would be “very limited”. How low can a person feel when he’s already down. Then the news from the Engine room filtered up.
As many of you who have served in the Merchant Navy will know, it is normal practice for a ship to carry uncertificated junior engineers. Almost all of them were “time-served” in various shipyards, a lot came in from the RN when their time was up, but wanted to stay at sea. Many just didn’t want promotion anyway, being quite happy where they were and,in the main, doing a good job. They were told that they would probably be downgraded to PO level.
So the already low morale went below rock-bottom. Job interest plummeted. Discontent and arguments abounded throughout the ship…and this ship was a “front-line” ship, where people were expected to respond to any emergency or “act of war” declared by our (or another) government.

When I started to talk about this particular voyage you may recall that I had “reservations” about how I could write about it, and so took some time off. This is partially why. Turmoil. Not just for me, but for so many others who had, well, perhaps not strived, but who had given a lot of effort into making the RFA a very reliable and well trained outfit. All to be thrown on the scrapheap? Here we were, only half way through the deployment and the RFA contingent had been knocked to its knees by “one who knows”.




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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #531 on: March 27, 2010, 07:22:29 pm »

Once we left the firing range it was, for once, a fairly leisurely passage to Hong Kong.
The events of the last few days had left us all physically and emotionally drained. I’ve mentioned before that I’m no fan of the “modern” Hong Kong. All those skyscrapers and the vast crowds always make me feel a bit uncomfortable. If we’d been alongside I may well have ventured ashore a few times for a meal or something, but as we were back in the same anchorage that we used a couple of years earlier in “Olmeda” it meant a boat journey of over an hour so I gave it a miss. From many of the reports I got from those who did venture forth I didn’t miss out on much. So that was OK.
 
“Fort Grange” was still not fully fixed by the time it came for us to depart, so it had been arranged for 2 of her Sea-Kings to embark on us for the next couple of weeks. The bad news was that they weren’t bringing any deck crew, which was going to put a great strain on me and the flight deck team. Being on the flight deck for hour after hour meant that all the other bits of my job just got ignored. But would we be able to get one of the aircraft into the hangar? Remember that we already had the “Scout” housed in there, as well as all the rocket equipment. But it did fit, just, with a fair amount of juggling things around. You may also recall that we “loaded” the Royal Marines band gear before we left the UK…now we embarked the band itself. So what with the flight and the band our “complement” had increased by 70. That’s a lot of extra bodies on an “Ol”. Now I had to fit them all into our “emergency station” bill. Mainly finding somewhere to stash them somewhere “safe” but out of the way unless we needed a few extra bodies for humping and carrying. The galley staff also learned that they were not immune to extra work! Actually, the Ch.Cook was a super guy, and because of him the pretty high standard of catering didn’t fall, which was a relief.

By now we were all just looking forward to getting down to OZ….that is until we got an amended itinary. Two port visits cancelled and the others all chopped down to not much more than a weekend. This was now really the voyage from hell. Much muttering about this being the last trip they’d do in the RFA. Even the Nav had had enough and he rapidly departed company with the RFA when we got back home and joined a rig supply outfit in the West Indies. He wasn’t alone. I was sort of stuck because of my age, but the actuality of the future was as yet still uncertain. So I decided to “stick with it” (or, more precisely “suck it and see”).

But along came another twist. While steaming south in company with “Edinburgh” (Prince Andrew embarked in her), we came across a boatload of Vietnamese refugees.
It was a very small boat, maybe 20ft long and had long ago begun to disintergrate, the engine was broken and there were no sails. There had originally been 23 people on board when they saile some 30 days earlier. Families, in the main. One family of 3 (mother, father and a 3year old daughter) was lost. The little girl had died of starvation, the mother died 3 days later and then the distraught father had starved himself to death. The mother and daughter were “buried at sea”, but the father had died only a day before we picked them up. His body was still on the boat. A child (girl) had been born on the boat…still alive. All the survivors were in a pretty bad way and obviously not expecting to be picked up. The Captain of “Edinburgh” had a pretty tough decision to make now. The political situation at the time sort of dictated that only “assistance” should be given to “boat people”, and he was minded to only sort of fix their boat and give them 30 days rations. But he accepted “Olwen”s offer to take them. “Olwen” of course being ostensibly a “Merchant Ship”. He later sent a signal to MoD and Cincfleet, the last line of which was …”I am eternally grateful for the “Olwen”s humanitarian nudge that came at exactly the right moment”.
However they were all too weak to be immediately transferred to us, except the baby (all 7lb of it) which was very fit and well. The other kids were just spelks between 4 and 12 years old. (the baby was not actually transferred at this stage).
“Edinburgh” buried the body “correctly” and sank the boat.
“Edinburgh” kept them on board just long enough to stabilise and re-hydrate them before using the RIBs (Pacifics) of both ships to transfer them to us. Still very weak, they couldn’t get into the boats, so the boats were brought up to deck level and three per boat were embarked…we did the same thing in reverse at our end. I imagine that it must have been traumatic for them to be put in another boat.
The flight had brought a steward with them to relieve the burden on our stewards, so his duties were rapidly changed. We had asked the “Ark” (miles away) for a Medical Orderly  to help out our Doctor, so he was flown out to us.
The baby and the children were brought over first. Our barman (a huge, tough bloke), the RN steward and the M. Orderly plus a couple of our cooks carried them to our hospital. I reckon that there wasn’t a soul on board who saw this bunch carrying these tiny people who didn’t have a lump in the throat. I know I did…in fact got one now just writing and recalling the scene.
So. Now we had on board:-
Olwen crew………110.
Flight………………40.
RM Band………….24
Vietnamese………..20
Total of …194….way over the top for us! In fact, I think we were over our “official” lifeboat capacity.
Then the political questions/problems began.
Obviously, it was our intention to go back to Singapore to land these people. However, the Singapore policy at the time was only allow the ship that originally picked them up to land them. Quandaries all round! But I guess that the publicity angle and so on the Singapore government didn’t want to be seen as a “baddy”.
I’m ahead of myself again. Finding space to “put them up” was a problem. The hospital was an obvious and first choice, then the cadets classroom (with camp beds), and one of the cadets cabins. One of the men spoke a little English, and we were lucky enough to have an English/Chinese steward so between them a sort of conversation could be carried on. Two of the men were pretty well educated…TV mechanics etc; but the others were farmers and not so well educated.
It was amazing to see the ships response to these people. Compassion and help from those who were some of the last people on earth you would expect it from. As they got stronger the kids ort of latched on to various crew members and followed them everywhere. The young Medical orderly in particular treated the younger ones as if they were his own. I still recall him sitting on deck holding the baby with a couple of the younger ones cuddled up and watching wide eyed at all the activity going on around them.
“Things going on around them”? Well, remember that we had the RM Band on board, and they need to practise. Well, the ship had this main open deck between the for’d and after houses…quite big enough for a marching band to practise on. (just). So the ships company got 2 concerts a day, free, from one of the best bands in the world. Probably a morning “do” of a couple of hours of “Dixie/Souza” and Glen Miller stuff, and then in the afternoon they would play what they are best known for….including those tremendous rat-a-tat drum things. From being a really down-trodden ship with no morale, we fairly quickly became almost our old selves again. Serendipity, or what. I’m sure the Vietnamese thought it was all put on for them!…nor did I know what they thought of those big helicopters thundering on and off at all hours of the day and night.
The ships crew, flight and RM band people hatched up some cunning plans to raise some money for the Viets. One was a full scale concert with uniforms and everything at £1 per ticket. So there was the first almost £200. Then we had a rely race up and down the main deck. (another £1 a head whether you attended or not)…nothing startlingly new about that….but there was a twist. Four of the Marines dug out the long ceremonial bugles , positioned themselves (full uniform) on one of the cross-catwalks above the deck and gave a full scale “State Opening Of Parliament” fanfare and performance. I recall that the Marines easily won the race…expectedly.
For their part, and not to be outdone by a bunch of Fish-heads and Bootnecks , the flight decided to “do their own thing”. One of the aircraft went the 50 odd miles to the “Ark” and had a general announcement made asking for contributions of toys etc. for the children. The Arks company responded by filling a huge (and I mean “huge”) mailsack with toys that they had originally bought for their own children.
   
By now the adults were feeling fit by now, and were beginning to make great inroads into our food stocks. Nothing begrudged, but the Senior Purser did mention that his re-stocking programme in Singapore would have to be “enhanced” somewhat.

But then cam the ultimate act of generosity. I know I criticise the RN for many things, but in some respects I really admire them. This was one of those times.
Some of us knew what was going to happen….but not all that many. During one of the morning “concerts” the Ark sort of crept up astern of us and came alongside at about 50ft distance. The Viets hadn’t seen her yet, and there she was. Shock and awe was invented long before Mr.Rumsfeld thought he’d coined the phrase. A light jackstay was attached, and the Ark sent over a Santa Claus followed by a pallet load of wooden toys that had been made by the Arks ships company during the previous 48 hours.  Even the Viets had tears in their eyes when the Arks crew “lined the side”, waved and cheered at them….and our RM band on the Monkey Island played throughout.

“Our” refugees were met by a rep of the UN Refugees and their entry into Singapore was made quite painless. They were then to spend 3 months in a re-settlement camp. One of the guys who got close to them on board went to visit them, and said that they were comfortable. They were also to be taught “English” so they could be settled in their country of choice. Not surprisingly, they’d chosen the UK. I also..much later..heard that the children were allowed to keep all of their toys. So a good end to all that.

 

Memory can play some cruel tricks. So I’m not too sure if I’m correct here, but I think that this is the band that was decimated by the IRA bombing of their barracks.

But, as always seems to happen, whatever can go wrong,will.
One of our galley staff was arrested for allegedly committing an act of gross indecency against a Tamil that the police had under surveillance. Tough luck. He was deported the same night as “reprisals” (in the jail) could be expected. We kicked off and sent home yet another cook who’d had a bit of a history of missing the ship.

After leaving Singapore the flight returned to the “Grange” and I could get back to a more normal way of life. Checking through my “Flight Deck Log Book” (yes, I still have both of them), I see that I clocked up 135 deck landings and spent 55 “operational” hours on the deck. So much for being nominated as a “spare” deck for the deployment.

The RN had “other things to do” so we were allowed to steam along peacefully on our own. A nice pass close to Bali and then along the south coast of Java towards Darwin. Not that we were going there, just close in a bit and collect some mail.

For my various sins I was also the bloke in charge of  “Liaison” at Sydney…actually meaning, on the bottom line, that “his nibs” got to where he was supposed to be at the right time and on the right day. As long as things went OK for him he couldn’t give a stuff about the rest of the ships company. No matter how much time and effort was put into arranging outings and so on for “others”…it was always “me, me, me”. After all, he only had 9 “official” thingies to attend in one day, and his car driver knew that better than I did.
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Roger in France

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #532 on: March 28, 2010, 08:35:08 am »

Fascinating, Bryan. An aspect of seafaring one seldom thinks about. What a joy to read of the human race rising to its finest levels.

Thank you.

Roger in France
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MikeK

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #533 on: March 28, 2010, 08:46:59 am »

I was just about to say the same thing Roger, even all this time later it was quite emotional to read about. Thanks Bryan


Mike
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #534 on: March 28, 2010, 07:11:58 pm »

Re-reading this lttle lot reminded me that I'd sort of forgotten to include the pics......
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #535 on: March 28, 2010, 07:26:57 pm »

With reference to the photo of the band.......if any of the readers of this site, who knew any of the Bandsmen or have any past affiliations to the RMs, please do as you wish with the photo. For this site I've had to reduce it to the stipulated 161kb, my original is a lot more, and reproduces better. I'm more than willing to send a copy to any interested person. If there are many people wishing for a "proper" copy, then I'm afraid I must ask for "postage". Regards to all, BY.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #536 on: March 28, 2010, 07:40:15 pm »



Our next proper stop-off was to be Newcastle NSW. But the gremlins hit again. “Edinburgh” developed a prop-shaft problem which meant a dry-docking in Sydney. The “Unions” and other fringe groups then “blacked” the “Grange” (fearing she was carrying some nuclear stuff), so that meant the Southern Geordies wouldn’t provide pilots, tugs or berthing parties. A few “functions” had been arranged for the visit, but all now had to be cancelled.
This was to have been a pretty high-profile visit, especially as Prince Andrew was an officer in “Edinburgh”, and the visit had been given a lot of publicity…so much disappointment when only “Olwen” turned up…..and was given a berth on the fringes of a steel-works beside a mountain of “scrap-iron”. We weren’t very impressed either! Going into a port for less than 48 hours after nearly a month at sea is a bit “off”. But by now “we” had sussed out the ramifications of the amended programme insofar as it applied to us. Apart from our “non-event” visit to Newcastle all of our future port visits had been programmed to either arrive or depart a day after or a day earlier than some large event in the port was to take place. The day after we left Newcastle (to stooge around) a major 2 week music festival was to begin…which our younger crew members were hoping to go to. The new Maritime Museum was to be opened 2 days after we left Sydney…which many of us “older” ones wanted to see. The Adelaide Grand Prix was to be held a day after we left….an event that many of us wanted to go to. Can you blame me for being a “bit negative”? But truly this was just a cummulation of events. The “upbeat” side of that bit was that the Ark (and Grange) were not allowed into Adelaide (Unions and “protesters” again) and had to anchor off Melbourne.
But back to Sydney. I’d made a couple of friends in the RAN a couple of years earlier, and they were in a position to let me have a “pool car” for the duration of the visit. Much to the chagrin of the 2 bods above me! So I managed to get out and about a bit on my days off . Getting that car possibly shows that making friends of people does more than just “pulling rank”.
The most time consuming job I had there was the running of the “Dial-a-Sailor” thing that the Aussies do so well. As usual, it was mostly the POs and Ratings that took up the offers. In fact, it was so difficult to get any officers to attend even “official” CTPs and receptions that “him upstairs” had to impose a 3 line whip on them to attend anything (and we were supposedly co-hosts!). I think the general attitude was “sod-em all”.
As in 1986, there was a large gathering of grey ships from all over the world for this commemoration. I forget now who the “big-wigs” were then, but this time of course Andrew was there, and Fergie had joined him…leaving the 2 daughters back home (wherever that was at the time). But Sydney this time seemed a little “flat” compared to the riotous time we’d enjoyed in ’86. But then, “Olmeda” had been a much happier ship.
Soon enough we were off again…this time to Hobart. 
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #537 on: March 31, 2010, 11:43:00 am »



All in all, the visit to Sydney had been a bit of an anti-climax. Certainly not the fault of the Aussies who, as usual, pulled out all the stops. Some of the “down-ness” no doubt could be laid at the door of the Unions and “protesters” who had managed to disrupt so many planned visits by so many ships converging from so many different countries around the world. (I did wonder why the Russians and Chinese hadn’t been invited). It’s no fun to travel by sea for thousands of miles in all sorts of weather just to spend a few fairly unproductive days at your destination, turn around , and then go back home again. Perhaps another reason was that it was only 2 years since a similar gathering had taken place. In a silly sort of way the “Olwen” was better off than many other ships. Although we were hidden out of sight a long way from the “creamy-toppers” we did have more opportunity to get ashore. Most of the ships taking part in the review were embroiled in “organized functions” such as receptions, sprucing up the ship for the “sail-past”, dressing ship, lining the side and all that stuff. And the weather wasn’t, as I recall, all that brilliant. Nice during the day, but often pretty wet and grey in the evenings….not conducive to a decent run ashore in a place like Sydney. Also, “Olwen” didn’t have to rely on a boat routine for any “comings and goings”. Anonymity does have some advantages! But leisure time was restricted.
But sailing away wasn’t a “departure” as such. Plunged straight into a 4 day anti-submarine exercise with “elements” from the various navies. I really haven’t a clue what this was meant to prove as it was all a bit chaotic and we were never really “out of sight” of the tops of the Sydney skyline. My guess is that the Aussie subs just went home at night and left the warships looking for non-existent subs…and then coming out again after breakfast. All a bit of a pain anyway.
After we were “detached” and sent on our merry way to Hobart the weather turned from benign to plain ‘orrible. (I forgot to say that we’d been in “blues” since we arrived at Sydney…even though the temp was in the high 70s) Now it was in the low 50s. Foul weather gear all round. When we crossed the Bass Strait it lived up to its reputation and made us buck around a bit too much for comfort. Now I think I know how some of the places around the coast got named. With typical Aussie style honesty they named “things” the way they are. No nice sounding euphemisms like “Cape of Good Hope” when just the opposite would be the case. No, what we get here are headlands called “Cape Disaster” or “Catastrophe Point” …and the oddly named “Backstairs Passage”..enough to give any unwary navigator the collywobbles.
But I found I liked Hobart very much. Not the newer bits, but the older parts were well maintained and quite picturesque in an Aussie way. And nice people. As we were the “Sole Representative” (so to speak) I think “Edinburgh “was there as well, but we had to hold a reception / cocktail party / "xxxxx" (take your choice). All started very sedately, but Aussies being Aussies very rapidly moved to stage 3 of the choices. Fine by us.
One of the guests was actually called Olwen, and she and her husband were so pleased with us (?) that about 12 of us were invited to “lunch” at their house the following day. “House”? They seemed to have more rooms than “Olwen” had cabins…and a lawn that would be classified as a park in the UK. So what with “us lot” and some local friends of theirs (and daughters), a merry time was had by all. This was where I got the invite to go and have a look at the old penal colony at the bottom of the island..as I related in an earlier post. As the person who had invited me didn’t have “the car” (hubby had it), the RAN gave me one. A socking great 4 litre Ford thing. I was very impressed, I must be doing something right!
I don’t really have to go back (you can do that) but even now I recall my dismay at how people were treated. And that was just before the idiot with a gun let rip down there. I left “Tassie” with fond memories of the people and a new knowledge of their history. I always wished to go back there, but I doubt if I will, but my son has. He “sort of” explored the place and also loved it.
At the time of our visit Hobart was also hosting a visit by the “Duchess of York” (“Fergie” to us plebs). Hubby being somewhere else in HMS “Edinburgh”. I haven’t a clue how she got to Tasmania, but apparently there was no way she could escape from the island with her retinue in time to meet “the Prince” in Adelaide…so she hitched a lift with us. I suppose it should have been an honour. I suppose. The first I knew about it was when “his nibs upstairs” made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (in a manner of speaking). The XO would be giving up his cabin to her, but they needed mine next door for her security officer. The Senior Radio Officer would be vacating his cabin for her “Lady in Waiting”. But for heavens sake! I know that the duty of a protection officer is to remain “close” to his or her “charge”, but on a ship such as this? Anyway a few of us were shunted around a bit.
I first met “Fergie” when I literally bounced off her at the top of a flight of stairs. An easy and quite comfortable bounce. I got a glower. Ten minutes later I met “hubby” at the top of the same stairs….same thing….except I recall wondering what Mark Thatcher was doing on board. Same glower. My first brush with royalty. Went well, yes? Obviously, my “belongings” were still in my cabin, so every time I needed something I had to knock on my own cabin door. For some reason or other there were about 6 other wives of “Edinburgh” officers on board. Maybe “Edinburgh” had been to Hobart as well as us…can’t remember. These ladies were ensconced in the RN Flight cabins. And with the exception of only one passenger they were a delight.
During the 2 day, 3 night passage to Adelaide we had to do a RAS with “Edinburgh”. Naturally the ladies would like to observe all this. No problem. Guess who was “chaperone”? Got them all on the “monkey island” and told them what would – or should-happen. Things like what to do when various whistles blow (the referees sort, not the ship sort), and what action to take. Like “duck-down” until the “all clear” whistle goes. All the wee wifies did as instructed bar one. Another glower. At this point I more or less gave up on the “one”. For ever.
But we made it to Adelaide in one piece. The UK papers got hold of the story from a steward who’d been entrusted with the job of doing the looking after bit…but sold a very embellished tale to the UK press. (He also appeared on the TV programme “The Generation Game” marching with a military band….a person of the third persuasion).
But I’ll do Adelaide and points onward later.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #538 on: March 31, 2010, 12:12:10 pm »

Fascinating stuff, Bryan. Now come clean - just how long did that "easy and quite comfortable bounce" off Fergie take to accomplish? One minute? Five?   :o

Barry M

PS Why do I keep thinking of a little grey tractor? Not quite as comfortable.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #539 on: March 31, 2010, 12:59:23 pm »

Fascinating stuff, Bryan. Now come clean - just how long did that "easy and quite comfortable bounce" off Fergie take to accomplish? One minute? Five?   :o

Barry M

PS Why do I keep thinking of a little grey tractor? Not quite as comfortable.
Well, Barry....put it this way: Compared to Flora, she was considerably "bouncier" in some respects. Especially as I was at the top of the stairs and she was one step down from the top. A very "boisterous" (loud) and demanding (loud) passenger. Subtlety and quiet decorum were not concepts she appeared familiar with. How long is a "bounce"?.....well, say "boing" slowly and you'll get the idea. With Andrew it was more like a collision but with a more sour glower. Curiosity satisfied? Bryan.
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BarryM

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #540 on: March 31, 2010, 01:59:08 pm »

Booooooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnggggggggg - Yes, I can just imagine that  :o  :o  :o  %%.

Glower she might but I trust you were a gentleman and left her smiling.  :-))  You never know; you may feature in her biography yet.

Barry M

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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #541 on: March 31, 2010, 02:22:40 pm »

Booooooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnggggggggg - Yes, I can just imagine that  :o  :o  :o  %%.

Glower she might but I trust you were a gentleman and left her smiling.  :-))  You never know; you may feature in her biography yet.

Barry M


Barry, there is a "rider" to this, but it comes later on. Bryan.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #542 on: March 31, 2010, 10:02:40 pm »

For the 3rd time of trying.....
Time for another photo break?
The first one is of 3 x Aussie F111s, with afterburners lit up, coming over Sydney Harbour to open the evening fireworks display. A pity that noise can't be put on a still picture.
Second one is of a "Yokohama" fender being deployed in 1982. They were new(ish) to us then, although they had probably been used by others for some time. Generally used as "cushions" between 2 colliding objects....normally 2 ships "rafting-up". (Fergie kept hers permanently deployed). They (the fenders) had a tendency to blow their ends off...or even explode when the approach of another (ship) was a bit too exuberant. The resultant bang was very disconcerting when it happened when under condition "air raid warning yellow".
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derekwarner

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #543 on: April 01, 2010, 07:24:09 am »

Thanks Bryan for that first .jpg........we had the near best seats in the house....[my work place] picnic blanket with an ESKY of chicken sandwiches & a thermos of tea  :-))....3 daughters & my wife at the nothern most point of Garden Island Naval dockyard jutting out into Sydney harbour....... being the GID Ferry wharf...... O0 - Derek

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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #544 on: April 01, 2010, 06:51:25 pm »

Browsing old records I found a heap of "stuff" relating to "Outback '88" (as the deployment was called). Part of my browsings revealed a bunch of cartoons drawn by a signalman who evidently had his own take on things. I was hoping to put a short explanation beneath each one, but I'm afraid I don't know how to do it.....so I'll have to do the explanations first Sorry.

1.  The 2/O(X) was most miffed when the local authorities wouldn't let his Mini-Moke to be landed.
2.  Another take on our pipeline breakdown.
3.  "His-Nibs" upstairs absolutely loved making broadcasts to the crew (pipes)...hence his nickname of "Captain Speaking"...and this cartoon is very close to the truth!
4.  What the crew thought of embarked flight personnel.
5.  What the cooks thought about all-night flying programmes.
6.  After the band/ flight/ and Viets were aboard.
7.  "Ark Royal", not to be outdone in the gift stakes.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #545 on: April 01, 2010, 07:14:01 pm »

Cartoons...part 2.
8.  The RM Bands reaction to a slightly mis-worded pipe from Captain Speaking.
9.  Not everyone appreciated the presence of the rocket team.
10.  When RFA volunteers were asked to take part in the Sydney march-past an RN drill bloke came over to train them.
11.  To take part in the march the volunteers had to have new uniforms...only the berets arrived on time.
12.  We were also used as a "dumping ground" for RN personnel arriving to join their ships.
13.  What the crew thought of the deployment so-far.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #546 on: April 02, 2010, 04:56:45 pm »

Staying on the "pictorial" side of things before I get around to continuing the "Olwen" saga.....All of these "deployments" have a motive on top of "showing the flag". Basically, they are to "sell stuff". The larger RN ships and others such as the RFA "Fort" class (and to an extent, the old LSLs) could quite easily be transformed into exhibition halls without interfering too much with operational requirements. I suppose that if a war broke out and full operational staus was required then all the sales guff/samples etc. would just be ditched overboard. I also suppose that it opened up new career prospects for skilled members of the ships company. Not that any of that would apply to a ship such as "Olwen". After all these years, I think I've just realised why we (and the "Olmeda" 2 years earlier) were sort of hidden away out of sight.....we weren't capable of being part of the "sell things" business. (Am I slow on the uptake, or what!). Anyway, for what it's worth, and some of it may be of interest to modellers of warships, I'll give you some examples of what was being peddled (at that time) to other nations.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #547 on: April 03, 2010, 03:55:13 pm »

But enough of the sales game...back to the "trip".....
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #548 on: April 04, 2010, 06:31:04 pm »

Actually, the run from Hobart to Adelaide did have a few "moments". SWMBO has just come across a newspaper article that reminded me.
Having left Hobart and trogging up the west coast of Tasmania (carefully avoiding Cape Disaster and so on, and sort of remembering that we were now some sort of Royal Yacht) it was nice that the weather was quite benign. Just as well that the obligatory "royal tour/walkabout went ahead now. (For some odd reason, I was not directly involved). She was shown around the place, introduced to people she really didn't want to be introduced to (and, in the main, vice-verca) and pretend an interest in, as in : "And what are you actually doing?"....to which the reply was "Oi be a-sweeping of the deck, missus".
Naturally, the entire ships company had had to learn an entirely new and alien language very quickly. This "new" language made for much shorter sentences than would normally be heard. The usual use of double-barelled adjectives is not just descriptive, but a very necessary form of speech, ranging from words of praise to those of threatened violent retribution....using the the same words.
So the ship became unnaturally silent.
Part of the "tour" just had to include the "Engine Room". For this, she had to be "suitably attired". Off with the polka-dot dress, (in private.....just in case you were going to ask) and on with the new. The "hard-hat" was easy as they can be made to fit any head no matter how large (or small), ear defenders, no problem (except for finding a clean set), DMS boots. no problem as the royal foot was about the same size as those on the average engineer. But there remained the question of the right size of nice, new and shiny white boilersuit. We could supply one for the correct height. We could supply one for the correct girth. But not one that did both. This is when the "Lady-In-Waiting"  (I think she was the wife of the Edinburghs captain...temporarily promoted). A couple of hours with scissors, a palm,needle and sail twine and a new and bespoke fashion statement was born. Bless her.
I hav a photo of this creation (as worn), but to save embarrassment to the Engineers who are also in the pic I'm not going to post it.
This little sojourn also gave the other wee wifies a bit of a breather...and a few minutes to themselves.
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Bryan Young

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Re: Nautical "Strange but True!"
« Reply #549 on: April 05, 2010, 07:11:51 pm »

Right, try again with "Olwen"...
I left you with the "royal tour" (of sorts).
But all this came to an end when we got to the top end of Tasmania and began the crossing of the Bass Strait. Lovely. Bows under and the back-end lifting and juddering. Lots of water sloshing about. Never have so few welcomed a bit of "roughers". Our wizened Welch wizard (son of Merlin, but nominally "signed-on" as the ships doctor) was summoned to the presence to administer a suitable potion for the mal-de-mer. This is a closely guarded secret that is hidden within a bit of "Elastoplast" and affixed to any visible bodily appendage. Thankfully, it didn't work. Merlin was devastated as he had hopes of getting a "Royal Warrant" or something. More joy.
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