I served on the
Minerva from just prior to commission in Newcastle as an Ord
Seaman RP1. Prior to commissioning approx 50 personnel were
billeted around the Newcastle area [ mostly with dockyard mateys
] . Three weeks before handover most of the ships company
arrived from Plymouth where we were based on HMS Tyne. The trip
to Newcastle was from Plymouth to Paddington by train,
transferred to Kings Cross by lorry and then onto Newcastle. If
my memory serves me correctly, there were about 200-300 of us.
All meals were sarnies .
After commissioning, the ship sailed for Portsmouth , where on
arrival we damaged the Sirius whilst going alongside. following which
the captain,Commander R A Hoskyn, left
the ship. He was relieved by Commander M O Taylor.
From then, all the usual , Portland, North Atlantic etc. In Jan
of 67 we left for the Far East via Gib, Cyprus , Aden [ just
made it through the Canal prior to the Israel/ Egypt war ].
Mombasa for the Beira Patrols and on to Singapore, Hong Kong,
& Fremantle . In the August of 67 we were back at Aden
covering withdrawal of the army/air force . This was the largest
fleet build up since the 1956 invasion of the Egyptian canal
area. I can remember the Ark Royal, Eagle, Fearless, and a
couple of the old Royal Marine carriers [ Centaur, Albion ]
After Aden we went onto Mombasa and spent 6 weeks at a time on
Beira Patrols. Somewhere in this period we lost our helicopter
which ditched in the sea, having picked up 3 weeks mail from a
British merchant ship. No losses to the aircrew. Just prior to
Xmas 67 we attempted to stop a French oil tanker entering the
port of Lorenco Marques south of Beira. Attempted boarding by
boat failed, as did trying to drop matelots from the helicopter.
Finally, Minerva pulled away and fired long bursts from the
small guns that were carried just behind the bridge. The French
tanker carried on into port. It was interesting to note at the
time, that the Portuguese Navy , which policed the International
waters , consisted of old R.N. Loch and Bay class frigates
dating back to pre 1940 s.
We proceeded to Simonstown , where they ordered us back to sea ,
so as not to cause a political fuss. I remember the ship being
low on fuel, and having to steam slowly to Freetown in Sierra
Leone. Fuelling there was from a sunken old RFA.
Arrived back in
Portsmouth a year to the departure day. From then it was refit
for 4 months , and in the June of 68 the ship sailed for the
West Indies. A 7 month patrol was carried out, returning in Jan