H m s illustrious, p.1

H.M.S. Illustrious, page 1


H.M.S. Illustrious

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H.M.S. Illustrious

  H.M.S. Illustrious

  Table of Contents


  Title Page

  Summer 1983

  Tuesday 3rd May 1983

  Wednesday 4th May 1983

  Thursday 5th May 1983

  Friday 6th May 1983

  Saturday 7th May 1983

  Sunday 8th May 1983

  Monday 9th May 1983

  Tuesday 10th May 1983

  Wednesday 11th May 1983

  Thursday 12th May 1982

  Friday 13th May 1983

  Saturday 14th May 1983

  Sunday 15th May 1983

  Monday 16th May 1983

  Tuesday 17th May 1983

  Wednesday 18th May 1983

  Thursday 19th May 1983

  Friday 20th May 1983

  Saturday 21st May 1983

  Sunday 22nd May 1983

  Monday 23rd May 1983

  Tuesday 24th May 1983

  Wednesday 25th May 1983

  Thursday 26th May 1983

  Friday 27th May 1983

  Saturday 28th May 1983

  Sunday 29th May 1983

  Monday 30th May 1983

  Tuesday 31st May 1983

  Wednesday 1st June 1983

  Thursday 2nd June 1983

  Friday 3rd June 1983

  Saturday 4th June 1983

  Sunday 5th June 1983

  Monday 6th June 1983

  Tuesday 7th June 1983

  Wednesday 8th June 1983

  Thursday 9th June 1983

  Friday 10th June 1983

  Saturday 11th June 1983

  Sunday 12th June 1983

  Monday 13th June 1983

  Tuesday 14th June 1983

  Wednesday 15th June 1983

  Thursday 16th June 1983

  Friday 17th June 1983

  Saturday 18th June 1983

  Sunday 19th June 1983

  Monday 20th June 1983

  Tuesday 21st June 1983

  Wednesday 22nd June 1983

  Thursday 23rd June 1983

  Friday 24th June 1983

  Autumn in the Aegean

  Saturday 17th September 1983

  Sunday 18th September 1983

  Monday 19th September 1983

  Tuesday 20th September 1983

  Wednesday 21st September 1983

  Thursday 22nd September 1983

  Friday 23rd September 1983

  Saturday 24th September 1983

  Sunday 25th September 1983

  Monday 26th September 1983

  Tuesday 27th September 1983

  Wednesday 28th September 1983

  Thursday 29th September 1983

  Friday 30th September 1983

  Saturday 1st October 1983

  Sunday 2nd October 1983

  Monday 3rd October 1983

  Tuesday 4th October 1983

  Wednesday 5th October 1983

  Thursday 6th October 1983

  Friday 7th October 1983

  Saturday 8th October 1983

  Sunday 9th October 1983

  Monday 10th October 1983

  Tuesday 11th October 1983

  Wednesday 12th October 1983

  Thursday 15th October 1983

  Friday 14th October 1983

  Saturday 15th October 1983

  Sunday 16th October 1983

  Monday 17th October 1983

  Tuesday 18th October 1983

  Wednesday 19th October 1983

  Thursday 20th October 1983

  Friday 21st October 1983

  Saturday 22nd October 1983

  Sunday 23rd October 1983

  Monday 24th October 1983

  Tuesday 25th October 1983

  Wednesday 26th October 1983

  Thursday 27th October 1983

  Friday 28th October 1983

  Saturday 29th October 1983

  Sunday 30th October 1983

  Monday 31st October 1983

  Tuesday 1st November 1983

  Wednesday 2nd November 1983

  Thursday 3rd November 1983

  Tuesday 8th November 1983

  Wednesday 9th November 1983

  Thursday 10th November 1983

  Friday 11th November 1983

  Saturday 12th November 1983

  Sunday 13th November 1983

  Monday 14th November 1983

  Tuesday 15th November 1983

  Wednesday 16th November 1983

  Thursday 17th November 1983

  Friday 18th November 1983

  Monday 21st November 1983

  Tuesday 22nd November 1983

  Wednesday 23rd November 1983

  Thursday 24th November 1983

  Friday 25th November 1983

  Saturday 26th November 1985

  Sunday 27th November 1983

  Monday 28th November 1983

  Tuesday 29th November 1983

  Wednesday 30th November 1983

  Thursday 1st December 1983

  The Westlant Deployment, 1984

  Thursday 19th January 1984

  Friday 20th January 1984

  Saturday 21st January 1984

  Sunday 22nd January 1984

  Monday 23rd January 1984

  Tuesday, 24th January 1984

  Wednesday 25th January 1984

  Thursday 26th January 1984

  Friday 27th January 1984

  Saturday 28th January 1984

  Sunday 29th January 1984

  Monday 30th January 1984

  Tuesday 31st January 1984

  Wednesday 1st February 1984

  Thursday 2nd February 1984

  Friday 3rd February 1984

  Saturday 4th February 1984

  Sunday 5th February 1984

  Monday 6th February 1984

  Tuesday 7th February 1984

  Wednesday 8th February 1984

  Thursday 9th February 1984

  Friday 10th February 1984

  Saturday 11th February 1984

  Sunday 12th February 1984

  Monday 15th February 1984

  Tuesday 14th February 1984

  Wednesday 15th February 1984

  Thursday 16th February 1984

  Friday 17th February 1984

  Saturday 18th February 1984

  Sunday 19th February 1984

  Monday 20th February 1984

  Tuesday 21st February 1984

  Wednesday 22nd February 1984

  Thursday 23rd February 1984

  Friday 24th February 1984

  Saturday 25th February 1984

  Sunday 26th February 1984

  Monday 27th February 1984

  Tuesday 28th February 1984

  Wednesday 29th February 1984

  Thursday 1st March 1984

  Friday 2nd March, 1984

  Saturday 3rd March 1984

  Sunday 4th March 1984

  Monday 5th March 1984

  Tuesday 6th March 1984

  Wednesday 7th March 1984

  Thursday 8th March 1984

  Friday 9th March, 1984

  Saturday 10th March 1984

  Sunday 11th March 1984

  Monday 12th March 1984

  Tuesday 13th March 1984

  Wednesday 14th March 1984

  Thursday 15th March 1984

  Friday 16th March 1984

  Saturday 17th March 1984

  Sunday 18th March 1984

  Monday 19th March 1984

  Tuesday 20th March 1984

  Wednesday 21st March 1984

  Thursday 22nd March 1984

  Friday 23rd March 1984

  Saturday 24th March 1984

  Sunday 25th March 1984

  Monday 26th March 1984

y 27th March 1984

  Wednesday 28th March 1984

  Thursday 29th March 1984

  Friday 30th March 1984

  A Mediterranean Spring

  Wednesday 25th April 1984

  Thursday 26th April 1984

  Friday 27th April 1984

  Saturday 28th April 1984

  Sunday 29th April 1984

  Monday 30th April 1984

  Tuesday 1st May 1984

  Wednesday 2nd May 1984

  Thursday 3rd May 1984

  Friday 4th May 1984

  Saturday 5th May 1984

  Sunday 6th May 1984

  Monday 7th May 1984

  Tuesday 8th May 1984

  Wednesday 9th May 1984

  Thursday 10th May 1984

  Friday 11th May 1984

  Saturday 12th May 1984

  Sunday 13th May 1984

  Monday 14th May 1984

  Tuesday 15th May 1984

  Wednesday 16th May 1984

  Thursday 17th May 1984

  Friday 18th May 1984

  Saturday 19th May 1984

  Saturday 19th May 1984 – Thursday 24th May 1984

  Thursday 24th May 1984

  Friday 25th May 1984

  Saturday 26th May 1984

  Sunday 27th May 1984

  Monday 28th May 1984

  Tuesday 29th May 1984

  Wednesday 30th May 1984


  Summer 1983

  Tuesday 3rd May 1983

  Departure day dawned fine and clear, or so the Met man informed me, as I didn’t rise until relatively late, at about seven thirty, after a fairly late night on Monday – the journey from Hastings to Portsmouth had taken over three hours, and so I didn’t get to bed until after midnight. The ship sailed at 1100, in Procedure Alpha, which meant everyone up on the upper deck in best bib and tucker. Or rather almost everyone. Personally, I felt as rough as old boots, for some so far unexplained reason, and so I stayed in my cabin, trying to do a bit more of the Report of Proceedings for the Captain. I still felt bad at lunchtime, but by about 1400 it had passed and I was once again functioning on all cylinders, to my relief.

  We had a briefing to give to the embarked aircrew at 1500 (the squadrons – 845, 846 and 824 ‘D’ Flt – had flown on board during the morning), which proved quite interesting, as all the procedures had changed on 1st of May, so we were all fumbling around in the dark to some extent. These changes come out periodically, and often make good sense, but this one certainly leaves a certain amount to be desired. Among the sweeping alterations is the abolition of the PVA (Poor Visibility Approach) – an expression well known to every maritime pilot – to be replaced by ELVA (Emergency Low Visibility Approach), a mouthful which will take some getting used to.

  No doubt some wheel at FOF3 (Flag Officer Third Flotilla) will get promoted on the strength of ELVA, which is the really sad thing. Anyway, apart from our slight uncertainties over the revised procedures, the briefing went well, and most of the aircrew are more or less familiar with carrier operations anyway, so there shouldn’t be too many difficulties.

  With the embarked squadrons we now have Wessex 5 aircraft (845 NAS), ASW Sea Kings (846 NAS), and AEW Sea Kings (824 ‘D’ Flight). The Wessex are used for general fetching and carrying duties; the ASW Sea Kings (Anti-Submarine Warfare) to protect us against the undersea threat, while the AEW (Airborne Early Warning) aircraft provide us with advance warning of any raids by low-flying aircraft and surface search capability. Of course, unless the Newcastle natives are particularly hostile, it is unlikely that we will need to use any of them in anger…

  I was Air Officer of the Day (AOOD), just to add a little spice to my life. AOOD is not what can be described as a particularly onerous duty – it just keeps me out of bed for rather longer than I would like, as I have to carry out Air Department rounds after midnight and before 0730 in the morning, so the night tends to be a bit on the short side.

  The evening entertainment was Charles Bronson in Death Wish – a very good film, but one I have seen before – and I resisted the temptation to descend to the TV room, and instead occupied myself in my cabin sorting out some of the inevitable paperwork.

  My AOOD rounds in the hangar revealed two wheeled trolleys which were not lashed down as they should have been, and which I subsequently reported. That may seem a small thing to worry about, particularly as the sea is giving a fairly convincing impression that it is totally flat, but if we did encounter any waves, the trolleys would certainly have moved, and it is quite amazing just how much damage something like that can cause. By the time I did my midnight rounds, they had been secured.

  Wednesday 4th May 1983

  A rather murky and mucky day, on the whole, with frequent rain and very poor visibility for the various flying exercises. I spent most of the afternoon up in Flyco, getting into the swing of controlling flight deck operations again, in between hosting a seemingly endless stream of visitors round the ship. I got lumbered with a clump (or whatever the appropriate collective noun is) of Grenadier Guards, who struck me as being tough, but not too bright, though certainly interested in the ship and its operations.

  Just recently, we have had literally dozens of different groups going round the ship, and today, as a fairly typical example, we had five groups visiting the Air Department itself – a mite tricky to handle, bearing in mind that about the only person able to act as host is me. There are definite limits to my ability, and being in five places at once is quite beyond me!

  The afternoon ended with an interesting little jaunt into Dover Harbour, in line astern with Naiad (a missile-fitted frigate) behind us. Captain Slater was driving, of course, and he made it, as ever, look easy, as he banged the ship, which is rather larger than most of the vessels which use Dover, in at one end and out at the other. Those people who were about the place to watch gave us friendly waves, so we did our best to impress them with a full-power take-off as we cleared the exit. Makes Sealink look a bit sick. But then, so do a lot of things.

  Our Number Two Air Director, John Griffin, fell head over heels today, and is confined to the Sick Bay until further notice, so it looks as if I might be spending rather more time in the Operations Room than I had been intending for the next few days. Fortunately, we are not all that far out of Newcastle, and hopefully by the time we leave there he will have recovered.

  Thursday 5th May 1983

  A rather better and brighter day than yesterday, with reasonable visibility and a fairly full flying programme as the ship made its way up the east coast of Britain. As John Lamb (Lieutenant Commander (Flying)) was nipping off home (he lives a mile or three from Topcliffe, the HDS helicopter’s destination) I had to stay in Flyco for most of the day, starting at about nine and finally leaving just before five. I did get nearly twenty minutes off for lunch though. A slightly bizarre sight as John Lamb got into the aircraft was a set of golf clubs, carried out to the helicopter by a very large maintainer. With John going home for what can only be described as a ‘leg-over and chips’, one might well wonder what the golf

  clubs were for. The reason was simple – in the golf bag was a 4.5-inch shell case which he wanted to get off the ship without attracting too much attention from Commander (Air), and the clubs merely added to the camouflage.

  As well as our own rotary wing operations, we were also ‘visited’ by a large number of fast jets – F-111 and Lightning, with the odd Canberra for a bit of variety – that were involved in a series of radar tracking trials for the ship, and all of which came down for low passes to pay their respects. Great fun. One or two were so close I’m surprised that the paint on the upper deck wasn’t blistered by their after-burners…

  The F-111 aircraft were also involved in a number of runs on a splash target towed by Naiad, which remained in company with us until midway through the afternoon, when she detached. Despite the slightly hazy weather at the time of the runs, it was interesting to watch the runs, some of which were very accurate inde

  I finally managed to get the Report of Proceedings drafted out for the Captain last night, so that is one of the bigger jobs off my hands. All I have left to do now is the Padre’s ‘Illustrious Chat’ – ostensibly a simple typing job, but unfortunately his English is almost as bad as Commander (Air)’s, so there will be a fair amount of re-writing to do.

  Friday 6th May 1983

  A very nasty day. The ship entered Newcastle in thick fog and driving rain and was moored in the Walker Yard (where she was fitted out in 1981/82, and where I had joined her in May 1982) by about 1000. However, I was a good deal worse than the weather, and spent the whole day in bed, feeling about half a step ahead of the old man with the hourglass and sickle/scythe. Talk about terminal ‘flu. As a result, I also missed the cocktail party in the evening, which didn’t exactly break my heart, though it was quite a good one, by all accounts.

  Saturday 7th May 1983

  I’m not right, but I’m better, as the old saying goes. I have forced a variety of medications down my throat, and I suspect that one or two of them (or perhaps the whole lot in combination) did the trick, as I was able to do more or less a normal day’s work, and catch up on some of the backlog which had accumulated through my enforced absence yesterday.

  During the morning, I hosted a party of twelve air traffic controllers from Newcastle Airport round the ship, which seemed to go down quite well – it was supposed to last from 1000 to 1100, but I finally ushered the last of them off the ship at about 1245, so I think they enjoyed it. As usual, the ship is a focal point of attention, and was open to visitors during the afternoon. Every time I looked out at the gangway, there was a fairly considerable tailback of people waiting to come on board, despite the very inclement weather – a much better response than we received in America, in fact.

  Sunday 8th May 1983

  The ship was again open to visitors for most of the day, and we were again almost overwhelmed by the response from the population of this city.

  By our best estimates, yesterday, which was (relatively speaking) quiet, we had about 8,000 people on board in all. Today, the number hosted was between 12,000 and 15,000. Quite amazing. One of our Land Rover drivers who took a trip out of the dockyard said that the queue to get in was a mile long, and eight deep. That can only be described as enthusiastic.

  Other than the visitors, and there were quite a lot of people in the Wardroom as well, as officers brought guests on board, it was a very quiet day, and I spent most of it in my cabin, getting up to date with letters and things – Commander (Air) and Lieutenant Commander (Flying), predictably enough, had both thinned out on the weekend.

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