Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Kicking it Auzzie Style

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned my love for the Royal Australia Navy. A great bunch of mates, the kind of guys you want at your back when things don't quite work out as planned.

My first operational deployment was back in 1991, just after the first Gulf War. The ship I was on was sent to the Gulf of Aqaba (northern end of the Red Sea). The task group we were assigned to was given orders to stop and search every vessel going into and out of that Gulf. In total, there were 6 ships, us, 4 US ships, a French ship and a vessel of RAN.  For the four months we were on station, a great rivalry existed between us and the Auzzies. By the time we have left station and headed for home, the score was officially even (but I know who really won)

To search the vessels entering and leaving the Gulf, we all had our own methods. The Americans used Zodiacs - a 20 rubber boat with an outboard motor. Not really all that awe inspiring. We used RHIB - essentially a slightly longer Zodiac with a rigid hull and a really big inboard engine. These RHIB can mount a heavy machine gun and go about 35kts - not to shabby. The Auzzies, well, they did things just a bit different. They would load the boarding team into a helicopter , hover over the bow of the ship to be boarded and then push the team out of the helo and have the team members slide down to the ship down a rope - HEAD FIRST.

Now, just to give a bit more perspective. Everyone knows how insane US sailors are. The Auzzies scared the Americans. Just look at that chopper, about 50 feet above the deck. All of a sudden, 10 heavy set men, armed with big guns jump out of that chopper and fall head first to the steel deck below. If I was a bad guy and saw this happen in front of me, I would have serious thoughts about sitting down and being very mellow about life.

So, on to the rivalry between us and the Auzzies. Over the time we were on station, we would play little pranks on the Auzzies and they would repay the favour. One morning a rather large red beaver was painted on the hull of the Auzzie boat. Hmmmm, somehow I think that was about as good as it was going to get. Go ahead mate, top that one off if you can. Well, they did. Later that week it was time for the Auzzie boat to host the weekly Commanding Officer get together. They came by to collect our CO via their helo. The helo hovered above our bow and hoisted the CO off our ship. The helo then remained hovering over the bow and one of the crew of the helo stuck his arm out holding an egg.


The egg was released and smashed itself on the bow. The arm went back into the helo and was struck out again. This time the arm held a 50lb bag of flour.

Oh, errr, I wonder how long he can hold that bag? Apparently about 3 seconds. The bag, following all the rules of nature and physics, hit the bow, much like the egg did. Unfortunately  due to the rather large amount of stuff in that bag, the clean up from it took a considerable amount of effort.

Hmmm, I think I will call that exchange a draw

No comments:

Post a Comment