Monday, 4 February 2013

On board HMS Edinburgh, and at the Races!

It's been a busy weekend for me in Stanley, Falkland Islands, South Atlantic.   As well has holding Nordic Walking sessions on the beaches outside town, I visited a Royal Navy destroyer which was paying a last visit to the Falklands.....
The day job - avoiding a King Penguin
The King Penguin was a rare visitor to Stanley.  It seems to be moulting and renewing its waterproof feathers. While this takes place, it is stuck on dry land for a few weeks.  It probably wishes it was with its mates on remote Volunteer Beach, about 20 miles north of Stanley, rather than avoiding dogs and Nordic Walkers.....
HMS Edinburgh.  Last voyage.
Saturday saw the public invited to tour HMS Edinburgh, which was in the outer harbour of Port Stanley.
More information on the ship can be found on Wikipedia, (link below) although I don't agree with the comment about it "....protecting the small community.... from Argentina's warlike rhetoric".  I keep abreast of the noise emanating from Buenos Aires, and I haven't noticed any "warlike rhetoric".  Political posturing, yes, but, in fact, the news from Argentina's navy in January was that of one of its ships (also a Type 42 destroyer like Edinburgh) sank while in dock,  due to lack of maintenance!
Tight squeeze for the Lynx helicopter
HMS Edinburgh  is now making its last voyage back to the UK as the 30-year-old ship is being scrapped in June.  This means that the crew will be finding new roles and ships, or perhaps new careers.
I think this was done to make room for visitors....

Recently, the ship has been patrolling the Caribbean on anti-drug smuggling exercises, and has been successful in finding stashes of cocaine on ships.  But I think the Navy is struggling to find a role in today's world, as the UK seems intent on fighting wars in land-locked countries.  I believe Edinburgh was used last year to shell parts of Libya; but Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali, are destinations too far for it....
Looking towards the pointy end, with Stanley about 2 miles away.
On the tour, we were given demonstrations and briefings by engineers, helicopter crew, chefs, weapons officers, and Marines amongst others of the 260-strong complement.
Mounts William (left) and Tumbledown (right).
The crew were proud of their ship and their contribution to defending Britain's interests around the world.  I'm not sure I would be able to cope in the confined spaces below deck.  Many of the sections were too cramped and sensitive to photograph.
Launches coming through the Narrows.
We were allowed to try lifting a 4.5 inch shell which the large gun above our heads could hurl 15 miles to its target.  I could barely get it off the deck, and the sailors are expected to lift and load 150 of these during an exercise, one every 3 seconds!
Sea Dart missile system.
The ship, as you might expect, was heavily-armed, with Sea Dart missiles, a Lynx helicopter which could launch torpedoes, and Phalanx machine-guns which can fire some incredible number of bullets per minute at incoming missiles or aircraft.
Cramped Passageway
In contrast to below, the decks are uncluttered......
4.5" gun, can fire 23 rounds per minute, 15 miles...
We had expected a brief tour and chat with some of the crew, but the tour lasted about 3 hours.  Very generous of the ship.  I was keen to see it, as it had been involved with a mid-Atlantic meeting with a round-the-world yacht, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, which my brother had been on in 2011.

For details of two boats called "Edinburgh" meeting in mid-ocean, see here >

On Sunday, a Sports Day was held at Stanley Racecourse.  This was partly to hold some of the races which were held over from the washed-out Boxing Day meeting.
Down at the start of the 500-yard sprint
Interspersed between the horse races, there were fun and energetic activities for children and adults - tug-of-war; backward sprinting; foot races etc
Jockeying for position
For the punters, there was a Tote office for betting, and a popular bar....My betting was as successful as ever, even narrowly failing to predict the winners in the Boys vs Girls Tug-of-War, as well as not troubling the Payout desk for the horse races.
Going down past the Grandstand
Horses are very popular on the Falklands, being used as transport before the Land Rover arrived.  Now mainly used for leisure, with some owners breeding and racing teams of horses for the prestigious trophies, and the kudos of being a top jockey.
Flat out for the finishing line
As said at the beginning, it was a busy weekend, and I'll also be posting shortly about an interesting trip to Kidney Island.  Watch this space.

Today, there is a gale blowing and the scheduled cruise ship, Star Princess, has cancelled her visit.  Stanley (population about 2,500) was expecting to welcome 2,500 visitors ashore today.  Tomorrow, Veendam is expected, with about 1,200 passengers, so here's hoping the weather improves.



  1. I certainly hope the weather improves by the weekend. See you then then. Bx

    1. "If you don't like the weather, just wait half-an-hour". See you soon.