Remember the Falklands @ Portsmouth Dockyard

Myself and the HSO (History Support Officer) have just got back from the ‘Remember the Falklands‘ event at the Dockyard in Pompey today. HMS Dragon and HMS York were open to visitors, providing a contrast between the 1982 vintage of Royal Navy ship, and the modern escort fleet.

HMS Dragon

HMS Dragon

HMS Dragon

Dragon is the newest of the Type 45 Destroyers to join the fleet, having only arrived in Portsmouth a matter of months previously. As I have previously commented after visiting Daring and Dauntless, the space on these ships is incredible compared to their earlier counterparts. It’s such a privilege to look round such a clean, tidy new-smelling ship. You know when you buy a new car, and for a few months it has that new smell? Well, Dragon still has that.

OK, who let a ginger in the ops room?

The ops room in particular is incredible, the sheer amount of desks and monitors is a sight to behold. You get the impression that the skill in commanding a modern warship is how the officers – and warrants and CPO’s for that matter – learn to control and process what goes in and out of that inner sanctum. One thing that occurs to me… I’ve been on three Type 45 Destroyers now, and never been allowed onto the bridge – what is on the bridge of a T45 that we aren’t allowed to see?

HMS York

HMS York

HMS York

HMS York is a batch 3 Type 42 Destroyer, one of the ships that was hastily redesigned after the lessons of the Falklands were digested. Longer than her earlier counterparts, she has a more pronounced bow for improved seakeeping, and distinctive strengthening beams down the side. I believe that she’s up for decomissioning in the next year or so. The difference between her and Dragon is striking – so much less room, so much more cramped, and overall looking very tired. The funny thing is, that we were allowed to see a lot more on York – including the 1970’s looking Ops Room (half the size of Dragon’s), the bridge, and also ratings and officers quarters. The crew were also remarkably informative and chatty. It’s always a phenomenon looking round warships – some ratings look bored out of their minds, whilst others seem to love spinning a yarn.

Sea Dart - never to be fired again?

Sea Dart – never to be fired again?

Other Sights

As per usual at these kind of events the band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines played.

I also managed to get some good pictures of the new Up Harbour Ammunitioning Facility currently being constructed. The New UHAF is much closer to the Dockyard than before, not too far off the corner of Middle Slip and North Corner Jetties.

the new UHAF

the new UHAF

My conclusions about the day? I can’t stress enough how important these days are. The Royal Navy is notoriously bad at blowing its own trumpet and doing the PR thing. Everyone knows about the Eurofighter Typhoon thanks to the RAF’s PR department, but how many people are as aware of Type 45 Destroyers? The Royal Navy, if it want’s to be at the forefront of defence, needs to win hearts and minds at home as much as battles at sea.

29 Comments

Filed under Dockyard, event, Falklands War, Navy, out and about, Royal Marines

29 responses to “Remember the Falklands @ Portsmouth Dockyard

  1. Sarah Cornish

    Thanks Jamie! Great picture of me in the op room. Hey I might be a ginger, but atleast you cant miss me. (Know good in the fireing line though).

  2. Sarah Cornish

    So how much commision do I get for this picture then? :P

  3. x

    You have me thinking now………..

    To be honest I just think it is more to do with HS than OS.

    At FoS 2005 I got admonished on several vessels for descending ship’s ladders the right way round (that is back to the ladder.) When I reached the ANZAC to save another discussion with the RAN rating about safety I went down the ladder facing it. It did feel strange. In my mind’s eye I saw myself looking like Neil Armstrong descending to the Moon’s surface looking like a real dunderhead. I had spent the last decade going up and down ladders empty handed, carrying wets, etc. at sea with no problem. The bloke who followed me went down the ladder the right way and the RAN rating then engaged him in conversation asking him if he was a sailor. To which the fellow said no it was the first set of “stairs” he had used on a “boat” …..

    • James Daly

      I suspect so too. I can’t imagine there’s anything there thats more secret than anything in the ops room, and they pretty much let you clamber all over that.

      BTW, I’ve just added the clip of the RM Band. Can’t work out what the third song is!

  4. BBC News 24 did a lengthy feature on HMS Daring just after she was commissioned. They were allowed to film on the bridge.

    On the subject of space, the Captain said that ratings had more space than junior officers did when he was one. I also read that the Daring class have been designed with a significant amount of empty space so that they can be fitted with new systems later in their careers.

    Pity that the RN no longer do many Open Days. I was a regular attender at the Rosyth ones; long traffic jams. special trains mobbed, big queues to get on ships. The last one was poorly publicised, almost as if somebody wanted it to be a failure in order to justify cancellation.

    • x

      They are very “empty”. Of course that is more a by-product of having to have a wide long deep hull to loft Sampson so high up than growth. Yes there is extra volume around the VLS for extra deeper cells. But most of what I expect to be fitted already has space allotted. I know some get carried away with the flightdeck being Chinook capable. Though SF prefer Chinook I can’t see designing a flight deck large enough to operate that helicopter being a real design driver. Large expensive un-marinized helicopter left out in the open, um, no sorry. Surely AAR would be a better option

  5. Yes, there’s lots of space where things didn’t get fitted. “Designed for NOT with….”

    • x

      Yes there is FFBNW space, eg the space abaft the VLS for Harpoon, but there is still a lot of volume within.

      • James Daly

        Every time I’ve stood in that space on a T45 I can’t help but think that it screams Harpoon, and what a difference they would make to the class’s capabilities.

        • x

          I have had some discussion about anti-ship missiles with various military professionals over at Think Defence. We have Harpoon and the cost to fit them would be negligible so they should be fitted. The gist of their counter argument is that the likelihood of them being needed is extremely small therefore they are no loss. One even said that as the RN would only go to war as part of a coalition therefore we could rely on coalition partners for that capability. Similar arguments are put forward when I complain about the lack of a proper sonar set in T45; there is no real threat so my concerns are unfounded. Apparently I under estimate soft kill systems too.

          • James Daly

            hmmm, ‘military professionals’ on think defence? ;)

            We can talk about the various capbadge loyalties, but the RN seems to get a rough ride there in particular.

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