Fighter All Weather (FAW) of the Fleet Air Arm.

Archive of Alan Ruddy. Ex Leading Airman S.E.2. 893 Sqn. Submitted January 2011.Untitled Document

893 Squadron to HMS Centaur 3rd Commission. January 1961 to May 1963

 

  • HMS Centaur recommissions January 29th 1961 in refit in Portsmouth Dockyard under command of Captain J.A.C. Henley. DSC. RN. (effective 18th August 1960)
  • Princess Marina Duchess of Kent conducts the ceremony on 3rd March 1961 at Portsmouth
  • Sea Trials in PortSea areas including Full Power trials
  • 5th April 1961. Squadrons embark. 893 Squadron embarks with Mk 1 Sea Vixens.
  • Centaur proceeds South to the Gibraltar and Malta Practice areas for Work up and Flyex's April and May 1961
  • Ship visits Messina and Barcelona
  • 14 days SMP in Malta and ship is repainted
  • 25th June 1961. Centaur proceeds from Gibraltar with Victorious and Bulwark (with Army units) to the Persian Gulf in support of the Sheikh of Kuwait. Lt General Abdel Kassam had declared that Kuwait was part of Iraq
  • Transit Suez Canal and two weeks spent in Aden while Victorious took the support role in the Gulf. Kassam withdraws.
  • Centaur returns to the UK and docks at Devonport (Homebase is Portsmouth)
  • Autumn work up in the Irish Sea. Missile firings in Aberporth range.
  • Centaur Heads South to French Riviera and further work ups in preparation for the ORI by FOCAS.
  • Transit Suez canal and operates off Kenya in support of badly flooded areas
  • Food and Medical supplies and support by helicopter squadron. 824 Sqn
  • Support mission completed by Christmas 1961
  • Centaur steams to Persian Gulf again in support of Kuwait.
  • Situation stabilised and New Year 1961/1962 spent in Aden
  • 1st January 1962. Set sail for the Far East Station and Hong Kong
  • Visit Singapore
  • Exercise Jet 62. The fleet assemble in Trincomalee. Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant exercises in company
  • End of exercise, fleet assembled at Palau Langawi
  • Late March 1962 back in Aden. Flying display for Aden forces week
  • HMS Ark Royal arrives in Aden and HMS Centaur is relieved from the Far East station and returns home via Istanbul and Malta
  • 807 Day Fighter Squadron (Scimitars) disband and 893 Squadron take over as the resident Night Fighter squadron. The squadron strength is 14 aircraft with 234 ground crew
  • May 15th 1962 . HMS Centaur berths in homebase Portsmouth.
  • Change of command to Captain P.G. Sharp D.S.C. RN.
  • Leave to ships company and SMP
  • Sail for North Scotland and Exercise Fairwind V11. 893 squadron conduct night flying
  • Visit Hamburg
  • "Shopwindow" firepower demonstration 1962 conducted for senior officers of NATO fleets
  • Short visit to Portsmouth and sail to the Mediterranean for the summer cruise including a docking period in Gibraltar
  • July 1962. Centaur provides opposition for the ORI of HMS Hermes.
  • Visit Malta
  • Exercise Riptide III. Crossdeck operating with USS Enterprise and USS Forrestal
  • Visit Marseilles
  • Exercise Alfex. Crossdeck operating an Alize aircraft from the French carrier Clemenceau
  • 893 Sqn disembark and take part in the Farnborough Air Display
  • Gibraltar for SMP
  • Leave Gibraltar end September 1962
  • 893 Sqn embark via RNAS Hal Far Malta
  • Centaur sails for the Agean for army shore exercises. Cut short due weather.
  • Centaur berths alongside in Port of Piraeus
  • Malta. Gibraltar and home to Portsmouth
  • Atlantic and Home Waters exercises cancelled because of an explosion in "A" boiler room on November 19th 1962. High pressure superheated steam killed all of the boiler room crew. Ship steamed slowly to Portsmouth using only Boiler Room "B"
  • Quote from ships commission book. This was the worst hour of the commission and the most moving moments were on the packed Quarter Deck on the afternoon of the accident, when we assembled to express something we all felt deeply.
  • Centaur is repaired and in January sails for Work Up in the South West Approaches.
  • HMS Centaur was operating aircraft at night off Lizard Point in the South West Approaches of the English Channel the night of 29th January 1963 when a Sea Vixen fatality occurred.
  • 28th January 1963. Sea Vixen lost at night. Both Aircrewmen killed. ID5.
  • Lt. Cdr Dereck (Mick) Fieldhouse RN. Senior Pilot. Left behind 3 daughters less than 10 years old. his wife Betty never remarried and brought up her 3 daughters with the help of her mother "Nanna Robinson" an ex World War 1 nurse who gave up her life in Wales to live with Betty in Limington near Ilchester until her death. Betty is well (2011) and has 6 grandchildren.
  • Lt Stacy N. Swift RN, Senior Observer. From Plymouth. Family status not known.
  • Quote from ships commission book. " Our days of sadness were not yet passed, for early in the New Year we lost the Senior Pilot and Senior Observer of 893 squadron in the course of a night recovery - a blow from which we are even now, hardly getting over."
  • John Doran personal testimony. "this occurred during Night- Flying - I was with 893 Squadron and off-duty watching a film in the Dining Room 4-5 Decks below the Flight Deck when we felt the shockwave from this crash. In fact I remember Lt Swift chatting to us going through the Suez Canal and him telling us that the area was the hottest place in the world at that particular time." Declared January 2011
  • Centaur visits Liverpool. Sails in early March 1963
  • Ships helos from 819 Sqn relieve and support Wales and Ireland during heavy snowfalls. Ship operates in the Irish Sea
  • 893 Sqn conduct missile shoots (Firestreak) in Aberporth Ranges.
  • February 13th 1963. HMS Centaur is in the English Channel returning to homebase Portsmouth but plans have changed. The Captain announces to the ships company at 1730 the following message
  • "HM Government decides that the presence of a second carrier east of Suez is very necessary." Lt General Abdel Kassam had been assassinated in a radio recording studio.
  • Two days leave in Portsmouth with Arrester gear maintenance with re storing the ship and HMS Centaur passed through the Suez Canal on March 1st 1962 to standby off Aden March 4th 1963 ready for any emergency
  • 893 Sqn operate with the army in Close Air Support and perfect the 2"RP role
  • HMS Centaur had her plans of visits to Quebec, Hong Kong, Nairobi and Copenhagen cancelled and found herself on station again East of Suez.
  • HMS Centaur transfers the equivalent of two Hunter Strike Squadrons, a multipurpose Helicopter squadron and a flight of specialist Radar Aircraft from normal to immediate readiness, complete with airfield and all services over a distance of 4500 miles to a possible centre of unrest in 18 days
  • HMS Ark Royal on station also
  • HMS Centaur returns home to Portsmouth May 1963 and recommissions again with 892 Sqn in November 1963
  • From 893 Sqn section of the Ships commissioning book. HMS Centaur struggled hard to keep us airborne being one of the smaller carriers and the Sea Vixen being a large heavy jet aircraft. At the time of writing (no date) we have flown 4237 sorties totalling 4734 hours. We achieved 11 Sea Vixens airborne at the same time, and we have flown from over a dozen airfields in addition to RNAS Yeovilton and RNAS Lossiemouth and RAF Tengah (Singapore). On our return to RNAS Yeovilton we shall be trimmed down to more manageable proportions (12 aircraft) before going to our new ship
  • August 1963. 893 Sqn embarks on HMS Victorious.



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