It's the end of an era as ships steam home from Hong Kong '“ Nostalgia

Seen approaching the Suez Canal in 1997 after leaving Hong Kong are the last three ships in service in the Royal Navy and RFA powered by steam turbines.

Monday, 22nd October 2018, 1:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, 4:26 am
On their way home after leaving Hong Kong in 1997 are (from the top) HMS Fearless, RFA Olwen and the royal yacht Britannia. Picutre: Andy August.

At the top is HMS Fearless. In the centre is the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Olwen and at the bottom is the royal yacht Britannia. 

Shortly after this picture was taken Fearless and Britannia passed through the Suez Canal heading for home while Olwen went about other duties.

All three ships have disappeared from the world's oceans.

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I recently asked why landing craft were dropped off some 12-miles from the D-Day beaches. Here's the reason.

HMS Fearless was decommissioned in 2002 and broken up in 2008.

Olwen was named Olynthus on launching in 1964 but was renamed in 1967 to avoid confusion with RFA Olympus. Olwen was decommissioned in 1999 and laid up in Portsmouth before being  broken up in India, in 2001.

Britannia was decommissioned in December 1997 and is now a static museum ship in Edinburgh.

'¢Â I recently asked the why some landing craft attacking the D-Day beaches of Normandy were dropped off 12 miles from their landing sites.

Part of the Royal Navys reserve fleet parked off Whale Island in 1957.

While visiting the patrol boat HMS Medusa, in Gosport Marina, my guide for the day, Brian Small, showed me this map which shows why they did not get any closer to the invasion beaches. It shows the ranges of all the German artillery on the cliffs and inland fields of Normandy. Any ship coming within those arcs of fire would have been hit and seriously damaged if not sunk.

'¢Â Last Thursday I included a photograph of the reserve fleet alongside Whale Island and asked for help putting names to the ships.

I am glad to say that Mike Noonan came forward and this his what he told me. From left to right: the cruisers Liverpool and Mauritius with Dainty and Verulam (F29) alongside them.  The next jetty along has three Algerine minesweepers, Lioness, Acute and Jewel, astern are Loch Tralaig (F655) on one side outboard with Rapid (F138) and an unknown destroyer or frigate conversion between them. The three destroyers on the right are Trafalgar and possibly Finisterre or Caprice.

'¢Â Somewhat faded but still recognisable, just, is an Amalon MoD crane, bottom left. It is involved in a parade, possibly at Southsea in 1945.

The Amalon MoD crane on parade, perhaps at Southsea in 1945.

'¢ Last Friday I asked if anyone knew where the Gales pub the Pack Horse might have been. I thought it might have been hidden away in some secret country lane north of Portsdown Hill or in the South Downs. It turns out the former 17th century farmhouse is in the village of Mapledurham, near Reading. Thanks to Janice Croad and her brother, a former Gales' drayman.