Our first week of trials has been productive if not without its set-backs. We eventually sailed with all our machinery working into what we knew would be rough weather. We just didn’t quite know how rough it was going to be. After the first few trials we had already lost the immediate use of one of our primary engines but we carried on with caution running on the other three.
As the trials progressed we had to push the ship harder into degrading weather conditions. A trial of our sprinting engines into a sea state five with four-meter high waves certainly tested the stomachs of even the most experienced sailors who had enjoyed an extended period of time ashore. Our civilian contractors on board faired even worse. A particularly notable piece of ship driving we executed involved proceeding at maximum speed, in the dark, through high seas, with only three of our 13 windscreen wipers working. The nose of the ship would regularly bury itself into the on-coming waves causing huge spray to rain down over the bridge. We suffered minor damage to the upper deck in the forward part of the ship, a few fixtures and fitting, nothing of significance but the important thing was that our ship’s company were still safe.
If we thought that going fast through a high sea state was bad, going slow was certainly interesting. 10 degrees of roll saw even the most sterling efforts of securing compartments for sea tested. It was just unfortunate that the Wardroom was setting up for lunch when the worst of it hit and most of lunch ended up on the floor. In the traditional Navy manner, as no one was hurt, we laughed it off, cleaned it up and carried on. The engines finally got pushed too hard and we developed a fault on another. We rely on at least two of our engines to provide power to the ship as well as propulsion so it was deemed improper to continue and we were forced into harbour to perform repairs.
With repairs now complete, and the weather improved, we are heading back out to continue where we left off and finish what we started. HMS Richmond’s ships company remains steadfast in its resolve and will endure much worse if necessary than a little bad weather and faulty machinery.
Ben Manktelow, Lt RN