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● HMS Gannet and RAF Prestwick personnel march through the
centre of Ayr during the freedom ceremony
Picture: LA(Phot) Pepe Hogan, FRPU North
in the Ayr
IF YOU’RE mentioned in the same breath as Winston Churchill,
President Eisenhower and Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie,
you’re in good company.
And so the men and women of HMS Gannet can feel justly proud of
joining the aforementioned – plus a smattering of local dignitaries – who
● Triumph and adversity... Men from HM Submarines
enjoy the Freedom of South Ayrshire.
Triumph and Vigilant struggle up the snow-covered
It’s been nearly 35 years since the good folk of the burgh awarded
slopes of Mount Roy during their expedition to New
their highest civic honour (back then Gannet had only been established
four years).
Three decades later, the fliers from the Search and Rescue unit
joined Air Force comrades from RAF Prestwick, home of the Scottish
Air Traffic Control Centre (Military), who were jointly honoured in a
ceremony in nearby Ayr.
Personnel from both units, joined by veterans’ organisations, paraded
through the streets of the historic town to the County Buildings where
Cdre Charles Stevenson, the RN’s Regional Officer, and Provost
Winifred Sloan took the salute. Rivers, deeps,
After that proceedings moved inside where the Freedom was formally
awarded to Gannet’s CO Lt Cdr Bryan Nicholas and his RAF colleague
Wg Cdr Richard Connely.
Townsfolk were treated to a flypast by two of Gannet’s distinct-
liveried Sea King Mk5s, while one was landed in the middle of town for
locals to inspect more closely.
“We feel great pride in being awarded the Freedom of South
Ayrshire,” said Lt Cdr Nicholas.
“We very much feel part of the Ayrshire community and to achieve
mountains high
this official recognition is a great honour for us all.
“Not only are we based in Prestwick, but we try hard to get involved
with the wider local community when we can and enjoy hosting local NORMALLY it’s our
school groups, youth organisation and charities on site.”
American cousins who do
blatantly-obvious cover
Loch, rock and boulders
G’s special delivery
YOU do not have to go all the way to New Zealand to fi nd
Ortsac (the proposed invasion of
mountains, let alone adventure.
Cuba in 1962 – it’s Castro spelled
No, Scotland has plenty of peaks to test the intrepid.
FALKLAND islanders have South Atlantic deployment. backwards…). Desert Storm
Exercise Cairngorm Crusade 09 (a crusade – minus
been reminded of the sacrifi ces The Fighting G counts three (Kuwait 1991). Enduring Freedom
the religious fervour – in the Cairngorms) saw sailors
made by the Royal Navy to Falklands veterans among her (Afghanistan 2001). Iraqi Freedom
and marines from Faslane head to the mountains for
liberate them a generation ago complement of 240-plus. (Iraq 2003).
two five-day packages of adventurous training.
– thanks to HMS Gloucester. So it was only right that the We Brits generally prefer
Based at Rothiemurchus Lodge, near Aviemore,
These days the RN trio – Lt Cdr Joe Harper
something a little more
participants of any standard had the opportunity
comprises the smallest st (HMS Plymouth), Lt Cdr (H
esoteric. Corporate (Falklands).
to experience hill walking, mountain biking and
of the three Services es Dave Moy (Fearless) Da
Granby (Gulf War 1). Herrick
rock climbing.
defending the islands, ds, and RPO Buck Tan aylor
(Afghanistan). Telic (Gulf War 2).
Upon arriving, participants were soon on
but back in 1982 the e (Hermes) – joined CO (
But not the men of HM
a nine-kilometre ‘leg stretch’ through the
task force it formed Cdr Iain Lower at
Submarines Triumph and
boulder-strewn Chalamain Gap between
was the only hope the handover of the
Lairig Ghru and Glen More.
of liberating the collection.
Exercise Kiwi Summit.
With joints now loosened, the adventurers
Falklands. On loan to
(1) It’s in New Zealand.
knuckled down to rock climbing at
Despite that fact, the museum are
(2) Mountains are involved.
Cummingston, a 48-kilometre mountain
the islands’ museum numerous images
Nine deeps left their boats
biking ride around Loch an Eilein
in Stanley possessed of the naval confl ict,
behind in Devonport (both
and the Glenmore Forest and also a
a dearth of material al newspaper frn ont covers
are undergoing lengthy refi ts,
20-kilometre hill walk, completing two
relating to the Senior and, as the centrepiece,
although Triumph’s is almost over
Munros (Scottish mountains above
Service’s role in the confl ict. the name board of HMS
– see page 12) and fl ew to New 3,000ft), Ben Macdui and Cairngorm
Enter the good folks of the Antrim.
Zealand’s South Island for a spot en route.
RN Museum in Portsmouth Antrim was instrumental in
of adventurous training. “Feedback from this year’s
and HMS Gloucester. the recapture of South Georgia
The explorers had no local participants confi rmed that the
The former loaned artifacts before rejoining the core task
guides to help them – they were crusade was a resounding
from its Falklands collection, force for the invasion of the
entirely on their own – but that success,” said organiser PO(PT)
the latter was the ‘postman’, main islands. She was struck
was only the beginning of the Andy Vercoe.
delivering those items safely to by an Argentine bomb which
challenge. “Physically and mentally
Stanley at the beginning of her mercifully did not explode.
Think we’ve had bad weather demanding, the week
here? It really does pale with what defi nitely achieved its aim
the submariners faced in and of taking people out of
around Mount Aspiring National their comfort zone in a
Park. challenging but very
The guys planned three treks enjoyable environment.”
through the park, 200 miles Cairngorm Crusades
west-south-west of Christchurch, take place again next
beginning with Gillespie Pass… month on October 5-9
except that 40 centimetres of rain and 12-16, hopefully
a day was forecast (the record in with kayaking as a
the UK is a smidgen short of 28cm fourth activity.
in 24 hours). More details
The weathermen got it right. The from PO Vercoe
heavy rain brought dangerously- on 93255
swollen rivers and streams and 3300/93255
landslides and subsidence. 3137 or email
When the weather eased andrew.
suffi ciently to allow them to grapple vercoe119@
with the pass, they progressed as far
as a stream in fl ood – and could go
no further safely. The submariners
had to spend the night on the river
bank because the boat evacuating
them couldn’t negotiate the fl ood
waters. of this remote route, which began of Queenstown. good spirits throughout.”
After rain came snow – with an hours-long slog through With none of the three treks Seven of the deeps earned
scuppering any hopes of the second water (up to the waist), rainforest completed, you might think the ‘summer mountaineering
trek, so plan B and a few days and swamp. lads would be dispirited. profi ciency’ qualifi cations and two
walking around ridges and glaciers When the exhausted team “There was an initial sense picked up the ‘mountain leader
in the shadow of Mounts Roy reached their overnight hut, radio of disappointment,” explained (training)’ award.
and Alpha, plus some skydiving, reports suggested yet more snow POET(WESM) Phil Blight, a Joint “So as far as the aims of
mountain biking, bungee jumping, and rain was to come. Undeterred, Services Mountain Expedition RN adventurous training are
archery and clay-pigeon shooting. they set off, before wet clothes, Leader who guided the team, “but concerned, there can be no
Despite the inclement weather, fatigue and bad weather fi nally the team spent many days in very doubt these were well and truly
the team decided to have a crack curtailed trek three and the demanding conditions, adapted achieved,” says Phil.
at the fi nal trek. It took a three- submariners returned to base quickly to rapidly-changing plans And at least it’s been a lovely
hour slog just to get to the start camp in the stunning resort town and remained motivated and in summer in Britain…
008_NN_Sept.indd 1 19/8/09 12:38:47
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