NATION

The Four Navies Of Our Fiji

Today, the Republic of Fiji Navy will celebrate 40 years of its existence. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is the chief guest attending the auspicious event. We continue to bring you
25 Jul 2015 09:38
The Four  Navies Of Our Fiji

Today, the Republic of Fiji Navy will celebrate 40 years of its existence. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is the chief guest attending the auspicious event. We continue to bring you every weekend a special look at the Fiji Navy through the eyes of its first Commander, Scotsman, Captain Stanley Brown.This is the continuation  of the History of the Navy in Fiji With its operations centered towards the protection of Fiji’s maritime areas, the Fiji Navy remains an integral arm of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.In 1975 it employed close to 100 personnel. Today there are at least 350 Fijians in the Navy.  

Continued from sunday, July 19, 2015.

 

…Just finding the way around the ship was a challenge and flight operations were taking place the whole time.

This ensured an operational role for the two sick berth attendants who were required to stand by on the flight deck whenever aircrafts were landing or taking off.

The senior rating Chief Petty Officer Inoke Bainimarama was attached to the Master-at-Arms office and Petty Officer Raikuna was Quarter Deck Petty Officer. Others filled in at their specifications, engine room personnel being assigned to watches down below.

The Fiji ratings had their own Divisional Officer and formed a sports team which was successful in winning the Deck Hockey trophy and defending it against all comers, finally returning home with the trophy.

While Christmas Island was being transformed into a tri-service base, a site was selected for the bomb test over Malden Island, 400 miles to the south.

Many years ago this small island had been the site for the guano gathering business and light railroad tracks still existed there – the only sign of previous human habitation.

In the fleet or GRAPPLE Squadron the Commodore hoisted his broad pendant in HMS Warrior.

The senior scientists embarked in HMS Narvick, a landing ship. A fleet tanker refueled the ships from time to time and a boom defence vessel maintained the heavy moorings at the anchorage. The two frigates were set to patrol around an exclusion zone set up as a safety measure around the test site.

Although the warning that tests would take place had been published in International Notices to Mariners, there are always some sips that do not get the message and it was for such a reason that the patrol was established.

Finally the Despatch vessel of the C-in-C Far East was available and would be used as a base for media correspondents whenever a task was imminent.

HMS Cook, a survey ship on her way out to Fiji was added to the fleet for a short period. The bombs were to be released over Malden  Island “Point Zero” in Grapple language by Vulcan bombers of the RAF for which the airstrip at Christmas Island had been specifically designed.

DC3s and Hastings aircraft planes ferried personnel between Christmas, Honolulu and Nadi.

Warrior was equipped with helicopters and one fighter place used for urgent flights between the carrier and headquarters.

The maintenance of all this equipment was a full time job for everybody.

The first bomb test established a pattern of operations that would be followed in all subsequent tests.

On Monday of that week Warrior left the anchorage at Christmas Island and was off Malden Island at daylight Tuesday.

On that day the bomb drop exercise took place.

On that day the bomb drop exercise took place. A Vulcan bomber flew over and released a bomb which was, however, a normal high explosive bomb.

The exercise was to test the trigger device that would activate the H bomb.  The plane carried out the same pattern of manoeuvring that it would activate the H bomb.

The plane carried out the same pattern of manoeuvring that it would carry out in the actual bomb drop. The bomb detonated 10,000 feet above Point Zero as it was meant to do.

The next important event in the week’s programme took place on Thursday, which was evacuation day. The soldiers, mostly engineers, who had prepared the target marker, were taken off the island.  Any equipment too heavy to be readily lifted was buried under the sand. The personnel were accommodated aboard the carrier.

Friday was the actual day of the operation.

Three tests were planned and the first went off satisfactorily. Now with confidence born of success was the time to invite observers. For the next test Ratu Penaia Ganilau, at that time a Lieutenant-Colonel, and myself, were invited as observers.

A Hastings aircraft of the RAF picked us up at Nadi and flew direct to Christmas Island from where we were carried by helicopter to HMS Warrior which was at the anchorage ready to sail for Malden Island. We were under suspicion right away.

To be continued:

Tomorrow, July 26, 2015

 

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: