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Tal-Ħandaq Nostalgia

Memories of the Royal Naval School, Malta, 1947 - 1978.


Britannia

Lesley Cole

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Martin Powell   [Mar 18, 2008 at 03:32 PM]
On 14th April 1954 with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Princess Anne embarked, BRITANNIA (A/Captain J S Dalglish RN) slipped from Portsmouth and headed for the Mediterranean where she was to meet HM The Queen who was then homeward bound from her Commonwealth Tour in the Shaw Savill liner SS GOTHIC (Captain D Aitchison).

Charged with this important rendezvous and subsequent escorting of the Sovereign whilst she was in the Mediterranean was the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet, by happy coincidence Admiral Lord Mountbatten. Personally involved to a high degree in the arrangements for this historic first meeting with the new Royal Yacht, the C-in-C named the meticulously planned operation order The Precise Manoeuvre. The fleet was drilled relentlessly in rehearsals, captains were exhorted to err on the side of showmanship and manoeuvre within (rather than outside) prescribed distances, and above, rather than below, ordered stationing speeds: nothing - but nothing - was left to chance. At 25 knots and with cruisers stationed at only 2 cables (400 yards) apart and smaller ships at 300 yards, there was simply no room for error. Perfect timing, from firing of gun salutes to executing wheel overs and speed changes, was critical to the panache of the occasion and the avoidance of collision!

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