HMS Dainty sabotaged in Portsmouth Dockyard | Nostalgia

After HMS Vanguard went adrift at Point, 1960 wasn’t a good year for the Royal Navy. Former News Defence Correspondent Tim King sent me the following.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 12:00 am
HMS Delight on the starboard quarter with HMS Dainty manoeuvring astern.  Picture: Tim King
HMS Delight on the starboard quarter with HMS Dainty manoeuvring astern. Picture: Tim King

Tim said: ‘The day after the drama in South West Wall tidal basin, when the Battle-class destroyer HMS Battleaxe ran amok after mistakenly turning over her starboard engine and dragging the fast minelayer HMS Apollo along the basin to collide with the frigate HMS Wakeful, the Daring-class destroyer HMS Dainty (3,000 tons) was sabotaged. Twice.

‘First, telemotor leads were cut, putting her steering out of action. Then two nuts were tossed into the reduction gears to her engines, stripping a groove through the gear wheels.

‘A contact in the dockyard told me “the second lot of sabotage was discovered when the engines were started and almost jumped off their beds”.’

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HMS Delight pictured at speed during refuelling-at-sea exercises off the Nab in 1969. Picture: Tim King

It delayed her departure for a three-week Iceland patrol by 10 days and sister destroyer HMS Delight had to take her place – accompanied by HMS Battleaxe.

Tim continued: ‘Naturally, there was a massive hue and cry by Admiralty CID investigators to find the culprit, initially thought to be a love-sick sailor who’d been jilted and didn’t want to go on patrol.

‘But investigations quickly focused on engine room ratings who would have the specialist knowledge.

‘The probe took a nasty turn when several Dainty sailors complained they were being spied on by Admiralty detectives during runs ashore, but a CID officer dismissed this as nonsense’.

It is near Sydney, Australia, where they are having the coldest weather since 1984. Picture: John Rich.

‘After a six-day inquisition among the 200 crew, four young engineering mechanics were arrested and brought before Dainty’s CO, Captain John Wells, and charged with malicious damage.

‘The Admiralty refused to give their names and they were sent to RN Barracks in custody while a decision was made by their CO whether to court martial them.

‘An inquiry was held on board Dainty, but the Admiralty refused to disclose its findings in keeping with naval practice.

Tim cannot recall which ship he took the photographs from. Can anyone tell him?

:: Former Portsmouth resident and Eastney Modern School pupil John Rich sent me this photograph of siblings Ezra, Alba and Cara enjoying the snow in the Blue Mountains. The weather was the coldest recorded in Sydney since 1984. While we sweltered in the heat last week, the Aussies were freezing.

John worked in Portsmouth Dockyard in the 1960s and can remember the spicy aroma from the Brickwoods brewery along Admiralty Road in the dockyard.