The following is a list of ships that I worked on during my time as a Fitter & Turner in HM Royal Dockyard – Portsmouth. These are listed in no particular order
- HMS Arethusa
For my sins, I was involved in the conversion that removed the gun turret from the bows and installed the Ikara missile system in it’s place. There were other mysterious changes made below to the fuel systems which required that I spend many hours on my own below decks, working in near darkness. That probably explains why I am the way I am now.
- HMS Matapan
If memory serves me right, Matapan was a rivetted ship but had a welded bow section attached. There was much speculation about how the ship was going to perform with the two types of construction.
- HMS Agincourt
Agincourt was one of the ships that ended “up the trot” being canibalised to provide spares for Matapan. And I was one of the cannibals, taking the PAS boat up to the ship, working all day with just two of us on the ship and then catching the PAS boat back to clock out in the evening. I wonder if Health and Safety rules would allow two fitters to be working in such remote conditions, in subdued lighting, down in the bowels of a ship, in separate compartments. If anything had gone wrong, we had no mobile phones in those days. No phones on a “dead” ship.
- HMS Whitby
- HMS Endurance
This must have been one of the first ships that I worked on “afloat”. I can remember that my fitters name was a little irish fella called Mick. He was always bright red in the face which everyone said was due to his liking for the drink. We were doing something on one of the Oerlikon guns, sat high up on the superstructure, in weather similar to that in the photo. I remember having a great view around the yard and the harbour.
- HMS Charybdis
The “Cherry B”. I don’t remember what I did on this ship but I do remember having a nice lunchtime pint courtesy of the Chiefs Mess.
- HMS Leopard
I don’t remember much about this ship, or what my job was aboard her. I do remember the overpowering stench of diesel that permeated everywhere. Something to do with the eight diesel engines !!! One can only hope that once she was underway, the fresh sea air would have purged the atmosphere below decks.
- Cheers !!