A S C E N S I O N I
S L A N D
We arrived at Ascension Island on 16th April. Although a barren, volcanic island there were one or two inviting sandy beaches. Unfortunately life was too hectic to enjoy any banyans. Stores and missiles were "vertrepped" throughout the first day and the ship's company set to and painted out all our black and white bits in an attempt to camouflage us. After the work there was a chance to relax and we held a horse racing evening on the flight deck.
Thought was given to hands to bathe but it was decided against when Leading Seaman "Taff" Evans caught a shark while fishing from the quarter deck.
About this time a Maritime Exclusion Zone was announced by the British government extending 200 miles around the Falklands. The only sensible way of enforcing this was by submarine so one must assume that our advance party was already in station around the Falklands.
At Ascension a large force assembled. HERMES, INVINCIBLE , FEARLESS, GLAMORGAN, ALACRITY, YARMOUTH, one LSL, BROADSWORD and two RFAs, OLMEDA and RESOURCE. On Sunday 18 April all but FEARLESS and the one LSL sailed. People onboard began to get the feeling that may be we were going to war, and those who had any doubts rapidly revised their views as OLMEDA sighted a periscope and the Fleet were called to Action Stations. ALACRITY and BROADSWORD gained sonar contact and a submarine radar was detected. Two hours of chasing took place until it was decided that what ever it was, wasn' t Argentinean, and then we continued on our way. The call to Action Stations had been necessary because the Argentinean Guppy class submarine could have sufficient range to reach Ascension and a successful pre-emptive strike on a carrier could have dealt a serious blow to the Task Force. Undeterred we pressed on south, uncertain of our future but ever hopeful of a diplomatic solution.