- Francis, Richard
- Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 2003 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In the event the ship singled up wires normally, slipped and proceeded on time and steamed down the river. Tension was still high, both onboard and amongst those ashore as this imagined drama unfolded. The tension onboard eased as the ship increased speed and turned to round the first bend in the river. Suddenly a Commando towed-trailer (supposedly secured on the flight deck) careered across the deck and flew over the port side, narrowly missing the side lift in the lower position. ‘Hey Royal, have you done – or is there more to come?!’ came the cry of a startled member of the hangar deck crew. The ship straightened up and steamed on down river.
In hindsight it seems foolish to imagine that the good name of the Monarch would have been drawn into the mindless legal arguments but the lawyers had a field day.
Her Britannic Majesty’s Ship – Queen Elizabeth of Canada – sovereignty – protocol – Commonwealth ties – legal precedent – all had gone into the melting pot as the debate raged behind closed doors, and few of us ever knew the full story.
However, it all blew over and it was largely forgotten by the time the ship returned to her home port, Plymouth. Here there were different problems caused by an unseasonable hot summer and a 3 week long drought, drying up both beer and fresh water supplies. The passage home was uneventful except for a full scale bomb scare in mid-Atlantic, prompted by a claim by Free Quebec terrorists (but that is another story!)
I wonder if my Captain got to keep the Admiralty Writ as a souvenir for his retirement years later, after his governorship of Gibraltar?
Note: Their fear was well founded as there had been two earlier cases of impounded merchant ships in Canada that year, which had quietly slipped their moorings and put to sea. In the previous case the Royal Canadian Mounted Police cutter had unsuccessfully chased the ship all the way out to sea, as the Master had determined to take the ship back to her European (bankrupt) owners to ensure that his crew would receive their pay due.