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20 NAVY NEWS, AUGUST 2010 Pies, pizza and Portland

FIRE on a ship is never pleasant. Fire in a Type 23 galley with the proximity of the main engine spaces and heavy electrical equipment, could be a recipe (sorry) for disaster.

So good job we practise for it. Here, HMS Portland’s ET(ME) Sean Fitzsimmons is fully suited up and ready to tackle the blaze with his shipmates. Yes, it’s all fun when the staff of FOST are onboard. And there’s no escaping the exacting inspectors of the Flag Offi cer Sea Training.

With the terrain blanketed by snow, the frigate’s ship’s company in Portland’s hangar for ‘FIXmas’ – Falkland Islands Christmas – on June 25. Well, what else is there to do in the middle of winter? So there were decorations, carols, mince pies, and some surprise

presents courtesy of ‘secret Santa’. FIXmas was just one wintry activity. There was an obligatory snowman standing guard next to the gangway at Mare Harbour, while CO Cdr Mike Knott and his heads of department headed to the islands’ capital for the ‘Mad Winter Swim’ on the shortest day. Dressed in utterly unsuitable tropical uniforms the offi cers joined some 50 locals braving the freezing eight-foot surf for a (very) quick dip, spending long enough in the chilly waters to earn a ‘certifi cate of lunacy’.

Not 9,000 miles from home. Not even at Christmas. Christmas?

Midwinter in the Falklands isn’t all fun, however. The snowfall made storing ship during a spell alongside at the island’s bleak military port ‘interesting’… but at least the frozen goods didn’t melt. And the FOSTies? Well, the Devonport-based organisation dispatches a mobile

team around the globe to ensure ship’s companies are at the top of their game while on deployment. A 12-strong team descended on Portland in the Falklands... and

promptly arranged all the mayhem ships can expect off Plymouth: fire, flood, disaster relief, terrorist attack, replenishment at sea (courtesy of the islands’ military tanker RFA Black Rover). The simulated galley fi re brought the ship to emergency stations to be able to deal with the blaze effectively. With the ‘fi re’ out, the ship’s company dealt with a ‘quickdraw’ exercise fending off a fast attack craft.

It takes a speed boat traveling at 50kts little more than a minute to cover half a mile, so there’s not much time for a ship’s company to react. They have to be quick on the draw, hence the exercise’s name. More sedate gunnery came courtesy of fl oating targets (ie the killer tomato) to give the upper deck gun crews a chance to test their marksmanship with the 30mm cannon, Minigun, and GPMGs. “When patrolling we are constantly poised to respond to incidents,” explained AB(WS) ‘Rosie’ Rosenbaum. “Exercises like these keep us sharp, one day it might be the real thing.” The FOSTies spent a week aboard Portland, ending their top-up training in traditional fashion: a Thursday War. They went away from the Falklands more than happy with the way the ship was working. Other visitors to Portland were rather less exacting, if no less

interested in Portland. Robert Hannigan, Director General of Defence and Intelligence at the Foreign and Commonwealth Offi ce, and Capt Mark Durkin, Captain Mine Warfare, Fishery Protection and Diving both received an overview of the Type 23’s mission in these parts; Capt Durkin was in the islands to visit the islands’ patrol ship HMS Clyde, which is part of his ‘domain’. With this being winter in the Southern Hemisphere, Portland has been conducting reassurance visits to remote communities peppered around the archipelago. Many Falklanders decamp to the ‘metropolis’ of Stanley for the winter, but not all. The owner of New Island Settlement (at the very west of West Falkland) asked the ship to check on the handful of properties on his isle to see how they were faring against the elements. The sailors were able to assure him all was well.

The ship has just completed her two-week mid-deployment maintenance period which has allowed some of the sailors to head out and about (weather permitting; the road to Stanley is regularly closed courtesy of snow and high winds). But you don’t always need a 4x4 to experience the delights of the Falklands. 460 Port Troop offered to take some of the sailors on a pleasure cruise… in a landing craft. It headed off to beaches around East Cove, allowing sailors to get up close and personal with seals, penguins and other Falklands wildlife.

The landing craft made access to these remote spots possible, but in most cases the Portlanders had to wade ashore. When the road to Stanley was open, some sailors conducted a

battlefi eld tour of Tumbledown, scene of fi erce fi ghting in the fi nal stages of the 1982 confl ict with Argentina. Less adventurous souls headed as far as Portland’s hangar and the ‘Lakeside Darts Championships’, won by LMEA ‘Ken’ Dodd. Diddy celebrate? Diddy ever… After expending all that energy, you’re going to need some grub. Enter Wrenominoes Pizza. The 26-woman mess offered to cook for the rest of the ship’s company (for a fee, naturally). AB Clare Brewer and Std Sophie Williams took orders over the phone while their mess mates did the catering services (preparation) and ABs Yorke and Manning provided the catering services (delivery). With duffs and side dishes of garlic bread (it’s the future, I’ve tasted it…), the pizza night raised some £160 for the ship’s charities. Apparently CPO Scott maintains the six duffs he ordered were for his mate Ron, Later Ron…

pictures: la(phot) simmo simpson, frpu east

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