Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A morning at Sea

Yesterday I was very fortunate to have a morning at sea on HMS York. We had absolutely stunning weather with bright sunshine and almost no wind which is unheard of in the Falklands. I think my angels were smiling down at me as I can get sea sick quite easily.

We had to be down at the ship for 7:45am where we were treated to a lovely cup of tea on the deck while we watched the colours being raised. The sun was so strong everything was in silhouette which I thought made rather a nice picture. The sun was shimmering on the sea's surface and hardly a cloud in the sky. This is the 12th ship in the Navy to bear the name and launched in 1982 just after the Falkland Island war. The ships motto is Bon Espoir which means Good Hope.

HMS York is a Type 42 Destroyer and is loaded with all sorts of technology including the sea dart medium range air defence missle system. Its primary role is to protect other ships and vessels with its anti air capability. It also does patrols where it carries out boarding operations. Most recently it was in the news for keeping an eye on the Argentine ship called Drummond which strayed in the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands. It can carry up to around 280 crew and is often out to sea for months at a time. As we were shown round the ship I found out a few facts I didn't know about the Navy. All the young crew actually live on the ship all year round even when it is at it's home port. They can go home at weekends and during down time. Some of the cabins can sleep 50 men, 3 deep in bunks. I am sure I couldn't survive this, the snoring alone would kill me off!!

After we had set off to sea we were given a demonstration which included the rib and some signalling. The rib pretended to be attacking the ship and circled around us while the crew went through their mock defence drill. Sorry I cannot be more technical but I missed out that bit of the talk!

The ship itself is an absolute maze and by the time we had been taken down several ladders and through different doors below decks I was completely lost. We had briefs in the engine room, ops room, kitchens and med centre room. They gave us a talk about safety procedures and fire, disaster strategies. We got to look in on the bridge, helicopter bay and learnt about the defence systems on board.

All the time we were blessed with beautiful weather and except for when I was in the medical bay I didn't feel sea sick at all. There were a few green faces sat about on the deck but thankfully this time it wasn't me. The ship is one of the fastest of the Navy's fleet and she certainly motors along with a top speed of 30kts.

Quite amusingly she flies a Yorkie Bar Flag along one side. We were joined by HMS Scott which is primarily a survey ship. We sped past her and then came around to sail alongside slowly. HMS Scott is the ship that is in silhouette at the start of this post. She is absolutely massive but carries a much smaller crew.

When we were safely out of range we were given a live firing demonstration to the side of the boat. Unfortunately we had been below decks when the brief was given about the weaponry that was used so I cannot enlighten you to what the gun is called. I can tell you that the smell of coredite that blew back was incredibly strong and really made you choke.

Although the ship was launched in 1982 is was accepted into service in 1985 as can be seen on the ships bell and she is planned to be decommisioned in 2012.

We were treated to a mock attack display by two of the four typhoons stationed here at MPA. We were told to stand in the middle of the deck as we would be swerving and turning the ship to try to get into position to attack the aircraft and it had been known for rather large waves to crash across the deck. It was great fun and at times you really needed to fight to stay in an upright position on the deck. What was bizarre was that one of the pilots in the jets was Bison who used to share a pad with John before we got married.

There was lots of oohing and aaahing on the deck with lots of people saying they would love to do the job that these boys had. I had to smile to myself because I am so used to seeing it I have probably got blase about it all. I know John greatly misses being up in a jet and would have been watching on with jealousy had he been there. I still love the sound of the jet engines though and did get a buzz out of hearing them.

I got some superb photos of the planes closer to but due to being married to the head of the air wing I am unable to show them as they depict to much weaponry that is on board.
Pretty soon it was time to head back into port. The kids from school including my three were up for a visit in the afternoon. I took this picture as we were docking and I guess my caption would be "how many men does it take to dock a ship?" this was a fraction of the crew that were running around calling out information. The gentleman on the left is the ships captain.

Just after we docked the Sea King came over for a fly past and flew alongside twice. The first time he came passed the doors were closed and then the second time they were open. I didn't know it at the time but John's deputy Wayne was on board and I managed to capture a picture of him below. He is the one on the left.
Before we left the ship however, we were treated to lunch on deck which was really fantastic food. There was a choice between Oriental beef with rice and spaghetti carbonara. With fresh bread, popodoms, salad and squash to accompany it, what more could a girl ask for. I have to say the carbonara was the best I have ever tasted considering we had seen it only an hour early in a massive vat in the kitchens.

We returned back into the main jetty and were given lifts to go back to the west jetty to pick up our cars. All in all it was a superb day where we learnt alot about the Navy and there role but mostly were treated like royalty.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was going to be boring in the Falklands? On a serious note, have you thought about offering your blogging services to the Telegraph? The Falklands are flavour of the month right now and an insight from island life might be just what they are looking for. Their contact details are on the web site
    Take care
    PS For John. England 3 Egypt 1
    Scotland 1 Czech Republic 0 (Lucky goal)