In the spring of 1967, I was serving aboard HMS Mohawk, a Tribal class frigate. We were in the West Indies, around 2 in the morning, and carrying out a RAS with HMS Lynx, to port of us, both making about 20 knots. I, with a few others, was on the quarterdeck, off watch.

This was written for non-seafaring people so, as you know, during a RAS, a rating stands in the bows of one of the ships, operating the distance line, a heaving line which has coloured lights at 1 foot intervals, so that the bridge officers can more easily see the distance that the ships are apart. On this night, the distance man stood in the bows of Lynx and we were approx. 30 feet apart.

Suddenly, Lynx’s port bridge searchlight came on and stabbed out into the darkness. About 2 minutes later, our port searchlight was switched on, also aiming out to port, across Lynx’s bow, catching the transfixed distance man in its beam as he also could be seen looking to his left.

Everything then seemed to happen at once. As the engines were put to full ahead on Mohawk, the Buffer cut the hawser between the two ships. Then the sterns of our two ships began to come together, Lynx had gone to Full Astern and hard a-starboard (taking her to port) while we had also begun turning hard to starboard.

As the two ships began to move away from each other, we moved back to the port rail, in time to see a French frigate, the Henri, steam across Lynx’s bows. We were told later, that Lynx had missed her by about 6 feet…it looked closer.

Sent in by Geoff Crane

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