Working it up at Portland


As a young boy I lived on Portland Bill in a little cravan right next to the lighthouse. Boy, was that foghorn loud. I would never have guessed aged 17 I would be working at FOST in the MSO and then a few months later on a ship doing my first Work-up.

There are tons of tales from that place, I'm sure.

A couple I recall was when one ship bumped into a sub. The signal I had to hoist was so bloody long I had to walk down to the quarterdeck towing the signal behind me, and even then I don't think any ships could read it.

Another was when some ship nearly blew the tug towing the target out of the water.

Happy days!


After an earthquake? Blowing up boulders that were "for exercise" in the middle of the road, with pencil charges the ...pencils!


Lantern Swinger
Have been back to Weymouth a couple of times since the dockyard closed and was not even allowed to have a look see for old times sake. I also worked in the Commcen (circa 69/70), in the ship room mostly on PXN. We lived in the old Warrent Officers accommodation at the top of the hill next to the football pitch. I still remember the old Undaunted coming in a bit fast one day and hitting the jetty a bit hard and knocking a killick bunting of his bike. The surprised look on his face was a picture. I enjoyed Portland as a draft and have to say that when I went back on workup it held no fears as I knew what to expect unlike others who had just heard to horror stories from the old hands (some of whom had never done a workup). All in all happy memories


Undaunted was she not the first live target for Exocet test - if my old ang failing memory serves me I seem to remember her being alongside in Gib before she was sunk as a submarmine torpedo excerise


Remember doing an aircrew medical for flight maintainer up at sick bay at OSPREY. Doing an ECG when the PMO was called to look at my trace. Shocked faces all round and the man looks at me smiles and says " seems to be a bit of a problem with the old ticker Chief!" After he said this, there was also a problem with my arse which was now pouting for Britain as I was obviously gonna die before I had a chance to get over the causeway and see the kids, one last time.

So the PMO gets me to lie down and have an 30 minute ECG trace, which basically was the longest they could do, as the it was only a small ward and what with the realms and realms of paper being spurted out of the machine, they would never have opened the door to get back in.

Anyway 30 minutes later, PMO comes back in, still with a very serious look on his face, My Navy career was over before it really got going. My heart was fucked, banging out of rythmn every couple of seconds. The PMO was amazed it had never been picked up before. I was a walking time bomb according to him, A heart attack around every corner, dont start any thick books the lot. I was devastated!

The PMO summoned a nurse and told her the bad news. I heard her say something like

'Safeguard, green fouly?'

She then went on to tell him that we didnt usually do ECG traces on a thursady as the equipment picked up the Ship's radars as they carried out the 'war'!

I'll get my coat!
:nemo: Fond memories of Portland despite FOST staff and all the work, the Jennies in the little Ops Room up the hill where we did tactical exercises on machines, lovely girls, the sweet sounding jennies on the VHF, the site of the dockies taking cover when Amazon shot alongside ramming everything she could on the way in cause the skipper didn't do slow ! (Ian Garnett) Made a top Admiral by the way ! Turning to Port one night and not noticing the destroyer creeping up extremely closely on our Port Quarter, bit of an emergency turn required there ........... !

Leading the ships out of harbour for O.O.W manouvers and having an engine failure just as we went through the moles, six short blasts, N.U.C balls up the halyards. Jimmy verbally abusing any yachty that got in the way anywhere, tanking through the fishing nets of various fishermen during O.O.W manouvers.

Getting pissed in the Black Dog whenever possible especially when the ship had harbour exercises at night. Stories of German destroyers shooting up tugs towing targets and praying that they don't do the same to us. And bringing Ex' Akward to an abrupt stop one dark evening when the gunnery chaps let loose with the saluting gun, marvellous acoustics around Portland !:money:
Operation Awkward, which spilled ashore as Aid to Civil Powers. Us Prisoner Handlers corraled in an old building at the rush and told to wait.

Later, the barrel of an SLR appeared through the window, and started to blast away. Our Chief Cook was a big fella, and he happened to be stood to one side.

I've an abiding memory of him casually leaning across, grabbing the barrel one handed and pulling it inside, complete with attached Bootneck.

Well, you had to give the guy a scudding, didn't you? No offence, and all that. Nothing personal.

At endex, the Booties rushed in, shouting "Where's the weapon?",
not "Where's our mate", which made us wonder.

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