I was Red Watch Plane Captain of XP955 (121) and carried out the Daily Inspection on the slip watch (2200-0600) 12th - 13th November 1970 on HMS Eagle. I was in my bunk when the ship alarm was sounded and the AIRCRAFT DITCHED pipe was made. I couldn't get back to sleep after that and it was shortly after that I heard that it was my cab that had gone in. It was my first and only close contact with the loss of an aircraft but I also lost my Divisional Officer, Lieutenant Bruce Harrison, which made it so much worse. Luckily, the observer, a RAF Officer if I remember rightly, got out OK and was picked up by the SAR. Bruce Harrison was never found.
A memorial service was held later that day.
I gave evidence at the board of enquiry, which I believe was chaired by Commander 'Buster' Bale but never knew what the outcome was. I can remember being asked if I had filled the aircraft drop tanks during the refuel (which I had) but the rest is now a blur.
declared August 2008