Wed 17:Left home to join HMS Aurora
I joined HMS Aurora in Sete in the South of France to take over as Correspondence Officer and Bridge Watchkeeper. I was to receive my handover from the chap in post during the voyage back to Plymouth, during which time the ship was to take part in a routine Convoy exercise with other NATO ships – Exercise Springtrain.
Mon29:Sailed from Gibraltar for the start of Exercise Springtrain.
Wed 31:Began to realise that things were happening in the Falklands
News reports were filtering through that there was some sort of political situation developing in the Falkland Islands (wherever they were!) but at that point we had no idea just what impact this would have on the next few months of our lives!
We were woken at 6.30am the following morning to be told by the Captain that the ship was about to take part in a previously unplanned transfer at sea of stores and ammunition. A task force was being put together back in the UK but ships from our exercise would form an advance party to head for the Falkland Islands.
My ship, Aurora, was not among those selected to go south so I went about my routine as normal. A couple of hours later the ‘Chief Ops’ stuck his head into the Ship’s Office and asked if I had a Watchkeeping Certificate – the qualification required to drive a Warship – I replied that I had but had never kept a watch alone in anything bigger than a minesweeper! He suggested that I went to go and speak to the Captain as a signal had been sent from HMS Antrim asking for additional watchkeepers. Two foreign exchange officers on board Antrim would have to leave the ship before sailing south as they would not be allowed to take part in 'our war', which meant they would be short of watchkeepers.
I spoke to the Captain as he was driving the ship alongside HMS Coventry in the transfer position and he told me to pack my bags immediately as I would need to go across on this transfer! I immediately packed a single bag with essentials and headed to the side of the ship where the transfere was taking place but by this time the ship was just about to break away, having completed the stores transfer, so I was directed to the flight deck where I began a helicopter shuttle from ship to ship, finally ending six days later in HMS Plymouth.
With no immediate means of communication home, it fell to a colleague onboard to contact my parents when Aurora arrived back in Plymouth a week or so later, as until then they had been totally unaware that I was heading Sourth, not North!
Thur 1:I was sent to Antrim as a watchkeeper.
Having had to loose Officers from the Royal Australian Navy and US Navy, who had been on exchange in HMS Antrim, the ships compliment was short of two watchkeeping officers and they had signalled the squadron to ask for replacements.
Not having actually taken over from my predecessor in Aurora, I was officially surplus to requirements and qualified to keep Bridge Watches, which made me a prime candidate to fill the gap in Antrim.
Within no time at all I was made aware just what this new assignment was to mean, Admiral Woodward made it clear we were going to war!
A navigational buoy had been sighted drifting mid ocean, posing a hazard for shipping and it was decided that it should be used for target practice, giving the gunners some welcomed training and ridding the shipping lanes of an unwanted hazard.
The guns crews were closed up and the usual routine of ‘checking safety’ was commenced. Just at that time Admiral Woodward, the Task Force Commander entered the Bridge and bellowed “There’s no f***ing safety in war, just open fire!”
From that moment on we knew we were going to war…
Member since: 4th July 2012
I am David Ramsden, owner of thebestof bolton.