After the first week of rough weather the ship was ready to take on more trials. We managed to get our Marine Engineering trials complete after the second day back at sea, much to the relief of their department. We had power! Well…mostly, an ongoing problem with one of our main engines still niggles at achieving the full effectiveness of the ship but we are able to work around the problem with no grumbles.
The next set of trials required the more delicate touch of the Weapon Engineers. These trials were going to involve many precise and meticulous measurements of our major sensor suites. Air search radars, gyro compasses, speed logs, active sonar, radar detection equipment and many more systems all needed calibration. It certainly was a week of ballet as the ship twisted, spun and turned with aircraft and radar waves flying through the air. We even managed to press on with the trials when a bank of fog moved into the area for two days and reduced our visibility to 200 yards. This was particularly disconcerting when we typically have an undisturbed horizon with visibility up to 12 nautical miles. The closest approximation made was like driving down your local road with a bag over your head. It also put a drain on the ships company as the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea states that when in an area of fog, a vessel underway shall sound her horn for 4 to 6 seconds at intervals of no more than 2 minutes. Sleeping became an effort, and with our captain’s cabin directly below the bridge, for him an almost pointless activity. Needless to say we gritted our teeth and carried on. The fog has since passed and we are finishing off those last few trials that we can before a highly anticipated and very well deserved weekend break in our home port of Portsmouth. Trials for us will continue over the coming weeks as we see ourselves travelling up to the dizzying latitudes of Scotland.
Ben Manktelow, Lt RN