Portland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 8 › view all entries
I was in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as a helicopter engineer. I joined in December 1983 and served until March 1989. I Was mainly based in Portland, Dorset on the south coast of England.
The Air station no longer exists and the area has been redeveloped into the national sailing academy and will be hosting the sailing events for the 2012 Olympics.
During this time I managed to get around the UK and on a few trips overseas. I went to Cadiz in Spain, Lisbon Portugal, Amsterdam and Heidleberg Germany. In 1986 I joined the ship HMS Scylla, A Leander class frigate. This ship was actually sunk of the south coast of England to be used as a diving wreck. During this time I spent a fair amount of time at sea, the longest being a 5 month tour of the Persian Gulf as part of protection force for British oil tankers.
I dont have many pictures from everywhere that I have been, but do have some from the Gulf. During the trip we visited Gibralter, Naples Italy, Cairo, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and a 2 week break in Kenya.
There may be people opposed to the military and what is going on the Gulf right now. All I can say is that we were a protection force and I am extremly proud of my time in the Navy and of what we achieved. The ironic thing is, that at the time Iraq was our allie and we worked with them and 3 years later we were at war with them. I dont make the rules!
During our time we would spend many boring days sailing in and out of the straights of Hormuz escorting tanker convoys ensuring they wern't attacked by Iranian gun boats. This was quite a comman occurence and there were many damaged ships anchored of Dubai that were not so lucky.
As we were working over the christmas holidays we had a bbc tv crew on board broadcasting a show back to the UK that links up all around the world to military personel who are away from home. This was a great show and we had a live link up to the studios where some of the guys got to speak to family members. As the show finished we were called to a mayday situation. A Korean cargo ship had been attacked and was on fire. When we found the ship our helicopter, with the help of an American seahawk from the USS Ellrod, winched the crew to safety and brought them back to our ship. Thankfully there were not too many serious injuries. The crew received great Navy hospitality and we took them in to Dubai the next day. This caused huge political arguments back in the UK as we assisted a non British ship. Thankfully the rules amongst sailors dont distinguish between nationalities.
If you have to be away from home at christmas this is certainly a fulfilling way to spend it. I will never forget that christmas day. What better present than saving 20 lives.