The massive example of British engineering and maritime capability that is HMS Queen Elizabeth should be fully resourced in order not to waste her potential.

The National Audit Office recently reported a series of risks to the effective delivery of the ‘Carrier Enabled Power Projection’ (CEPP) programme, one of the most serious issues found is what they describe as increasing pressure on a few highly trained personnel to operate the capability.

They also warn that while the MoD has brought forward Lightning costs originally planned for after 2020, so that two squadrons of jets are available sooner. The total forecast spend of £5.8 billion on Lightning procurement to 2020 could change if foreign exchange rates shift and the total number of jets on order globally varies.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office said:

“The Department [MoD]has made good progress and clear plans to achieve an initial Carrier Strike operating capability by December 2020, but it still has a lot to do as it brings together the equipment, trained crews, infrastructure and support. Problems in any of these areas could mean use of the carriers is delayed or reduced. The programme will shortly move into a high-risk period of trials, testing and training which may affect plans and increase costs. The closely timed sequence of tasks offers no further room for slippage and there remain significant risks to value for money.”

According to the NAO, the MoD is ‘relying on an unusually high level of simulator-based training for pilots which, if not sufficiently realistic, could limit how well prepared pilots are to operate the jets’. The report ‘Delivering Carrier Strike’ warns that the programme is in a high-risk phase. These risks include:

• A tight schedule with limited contingency. The Department has set an ambitious master schedule that brings together the interdependent schedules of the three core programmes to achieve the full CEPP capability by 2026. It has taken a number of decisions to address slippage, which has compressed the schedule and increased risk.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke.

• Increasing pressure on a few highly trained personnel to operate the capability. The Department has a shortage of military personnel, running at 4% below a target strength of 145,560. Key shortages include engineering roles and war-fighting specialists in the Navy and engineering, intelligence, and some aircrew cadres in the RAF. To minimise the impact of these gaps on Carrier Strike, the Department is prioritising the capability and carrying out targeted recruitment. However, it will rely on a few people in certain roles to build up the skills and experience needed in time. This is creating a risk of overburdening a small number of personnel in the build-up to first operational use from 2021.

To mitigate these risks, the NAO recommends that the MoD should:

a. Maintain a realistic view of the aggregate risk and review the master schedule and key milestones regularly. This will help to mitigate the risk of the schedule driving poor decision-making that does not make operational sense or that leads to greater risks or compromises elsewhere.

b. Guard against over-ambition and robustly resist any pressure to bring operational dates forward. In assessing any decision to use elements of Carrier Strike before December 2020, the Department should set out the risks of doing so, the impact on achieving the full capability and the wider impact on defence.

c. Make the decisions needed to integrate Carrier Strike into wider defence capability within the Department’s next annual planning round. This will help identify where there are conflicts such as over-committing equipment or differing views on deployment. Clarity about these issues will be important for ensuring that current programme plans are realistic.

d. Set out arrangements for long-term leadership and oversight of the CEPP capability. Even after reaching the milestones of Carrier Strike and CEPP, there will still be a need for strategic oversight and a forum for discussing issues across the Commands and wider Department.

e. Build more resilience into its workforce model. The Department should continue to monitor workload and time away from base, and ensure that personnel have enough support. In the longer term, the Department needs to maintain efforts to recruit and train extra personnel.

In addition, the MoD recently accelerated its purchase of Lightning jets, which will support pilot training, however the number of pilots will be just sufficient up to 2026 with limited resilience in the event that personnel decide to leave the services.

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Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

Now for some more surface escorts please and a new LHD

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Why do we need a new LHD when a single QEC can take 24 helicopters and its strike package of 24-36 F35B’s – also where do we get these helicopters and the personnel to man said LHD. Much better to keep our LPD’s and Bays (which are under utilised as it stands) and load these carriers to at least 80% of their capacity as standard. There is no logical reason to have an LHD with all the other assets we have and the limited volume of helicopters we have as well. More Escorts and more subs should be the priority… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

Pacman27 – exactly the point I have been making Sir. We should let Ocean go to her new home because basically one of a class is pointless, we now have huge helicopter delivery capability with the QEs and the crew and helicopter resources attached to Ocean can be transferred as working assets to QE or PoW. We need two new LPDs to add to Albion and Bulwark which can be kept in store for surge needs (something the Americans do very well) and these could be started very quickly to kick off the National Shipbuilding Strategy if we don’t do… Read more »

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

The QEC is to big and therefore venerable to use as a LHA. Also the Merlin it carries are not appropriate for amphibious operations. Essentially it can’t operate as a strike carrier and LHA ship at the same time.

P tattersall
Guest
P tattersall

The only technology this ship will be venerable is the USA and we won’t be fighting them … The Chinese still can’t make a decent screw yet for BQ .

Chris
Guest
Chris

Harry – So are you saying HMS Ocean is not vulnerable and the QE is? And whatever helos operate off Ocean can’t operate off QE? And that the Chinooks operating off Ocean can’t operated off QE?

I could swear I saw Junglies on QE as she came in to Portsmouth the first time.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Harry

What helicopters does Ocean carry and in what quantity that the QEC’s cannot.

Unfortunately your argument doesn’t stack up. Sorry

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I’d read the air group will have both Fixed Wing, ASW & ASCS elements, and CSAR, CHF Types at once, so a nice mix.

The QEC can pretty much operate whatever it wants, its big enough.

farouk
Guest
farouk

Why do we need a new LHD when a single QEC can take 24 helicopters and its strike package of 24-36 F35B’s – also where do we get these helicopters and the personnel to man said LHD.

Because no Helo can lift armour to the LZ

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

@Farouk. we all know that however nor can an LHD – I think you will find an LPD is the only ship that is able to do this and most on this site are in favour of retaining Albion and Bulwark and the Bays. Ocean does not offer anything the QEC can’t do better and with more of.

Also you wouldn’t put either close in as there is no need – helicopters have a range of at least 200km so no need to go into the littorals for these assets.

RANFAN
Guest
RANFAN

Tell that to the RAN that they cant move Abrams vis the Canberra’s

Jack
Guest
Jack

I agree with Pacman27. Let’s concentrate on getting full utility from the superb QEC’s over the next few years and keeping the LPD’s in service.
We can replace the LPD’s with LPH style ships when it comes to decommissioning Albion/Bulwark, which hopefully won’t be for while.

Otto rapauken
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Otto rapauken

” Our new aircraft carrier could sink the defence budget without firing a shot”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/07/aircraft-carrier-defence-budget-hms-queen-elizabeth-royal-navy

Jack
Guest
Jack

That Guardian article is shite. Terrorism is a current threat. Doesn’t mean it will always be the biggest problem.
And even then US and French carriers have used their aircraft to attack terrorist targets.
The half baked idiot who wrote this dross hasn’t got a clue about the flexibility a carrier offers a nation.

P tattersall
Guest
P tattersall

Correct the left wing 5 th Columnist and plenty on this site always knocking our armed forces .. Only the USA got better weapons than us ..

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Spot on. Guardian…deary me. Against its own nation that one.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Otto – I got as far a ‘theguardian’ and realised it would be a waste of time reading it.

Proves exactly my point I made elsewhere that the Leftie do-gooder liberals are the insidious 5th columnists of the UK…. Look no further than Corbyn and the Momentum morons …

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

I read it just for kicks. This statement in it typifies the whole sorry article:

” and on aircraft carriers with empty flight decks.”

Tim62
Guest
Tim62

It’s a point of view that you’d expect from the Guardian, but it’s not partly without its merits. Most of us would indeed recognize – as does the RN – that with the QEII and PoW they have put most of their eggs in one basket. Also, in terms of aircraft, it may well be that they rarely carry their full complement. So in terms of highlighting the risks with the cost-constrained defence choices that the UK has made we all know about – yes – it’s making fair points. But where it goes very badly wrong is to say… Read more »

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Tim62 – excellent point and something that a lot of people miss. Defence is about worst case scenarios – not day to day and we have clearly missed the boat with Cyber which is now a type of warfare in its own right. The Falklands and the Gulf war are key examples of why we need seldom used capabilities, what the military do really badly though is to not utilise these assets properly during peacetime. The QEC’s can take 48 F35bs easily (most images show 24 on deck), so our worst case planning should be to operate both at once… Read more »

Maurice10
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Maurice10

The BBC reported about the commissioning then made heavy weather about the costs! Aunty has become so left wing, anti-state, I can no longer tolerate its blatant bias. In fact, one of the MOD’s biggest enemies is not a potential military foe, but the bloody British media and its manipulations. We don’t need to worry too much about false news, as politically motivated news editors are a far more formidable force. They call it balance, and fair representation of the facts, if you believe that, then the Moon is really made of cheese.

Tim62
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Tim62

@Maurice oh come on, the BBC is not anti-state – where on earth is the evidence for that?

Tim UK
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Tim UK

Said all along the long-term strategy is to be an additional force for the USN and to cover the med and mid-east to allow an additional american carrier to be deployed in the Pacific. The RN and MOD have no intention of buying additional support destroyers for the carriers the strategy is to use partner Nato ships. At the same time they will get away with a minimum JSF force knowing full well that at a time of conflict USMC JSF will double the numbers. The USN is in on this long term approach. If things are really bad one… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Tim – Given the way Trump just screwed up the Middle East and Eastern Med area I am sure the US Navy would be more than happy to hand it over to the Royal Navy. Not sure we should take the poisoned chalice though. The US has screwed up every foreign policy initiative in the area since WWII starting with the creation of Israel so let them clear up their own shit that has flowed since their actions in the late 1940s. We should enhance our relations with particular nations for specific reasons that benefit us (like in Bahrain) but… Read more »

David Stephen
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David Stephen

We are and will continue to be dependent on middle eastern oil whilst the US is not. They can afford to pass the middle east to us but we cant afford to not be involved there. That being said there is no reason we cant do a better job. Not sure why you say Trump screwed up the middle east, as it has been a basket case for decades and our fingerprints are all over that. All Trump did today was move an embassy to where it should already have been.

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

Do explain how acknowledging reality on the ground that has been the state of play since 1967 is President Trump screwing up the Middle East. The creation of the Nation of Israel is the only good thing for the US to come out of WWII. Every thing else benefited other countries oftentimes even when they STARTED the war, or committed GENOCIDE and were given foreign aid as punishment. At least the Israelis were victims of either Anti-Semitic euros or psychotic Arab fanatics. America sided with the wronged and it is as simple as that. They have been America’s most steadfast… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

David – So where are our ‘fingerprints all over it’? We basically haven’t had a role East of Suez since the Americans shafted us and the French (their biggest and long time Allies) over Suez when the Israelis, who actually sided with us to start with, then became worried we were getting ‘too close’.

And please define one US Foreign Policy in the Middle East that has ‘gone well’?

sjb1968
Guest
sjb1968

Elliot those Arab fanatics you talk about were largely living in a state called Palistine and the terrorists the USA have fought against with their steadfast ally Israel also tend to be Palistinian. You tend to reap what you sow and the British know a lot about this type of thing.

sjb1968
Guest
sjb1968

sorry about my spelling but hopefully not too many Palestinian’s reading this tonight!

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

NO such State existed. The Palestinian Mandate was not a sovereign state it was territory under Imperial rule by Britain often under Martial Law. Before then it was split between what is now Jordan and Syria under the Ottoman Empire. Before then it was the Abbasid Caliphate. The area only got the name Palestine as a romanization of the word Philistia when they renamed the province after the Hebrew’s enemies as punishment for rebellion. Also these Radical Islamists have come from all over the planet. So yes we do reap what we sow. It is obvious the United States has… Read more »

sjb1968
Guest
sjb1968

Elliot using CAPITALS is just a little childish and if you can highlight where I stated that the Palestinians are peaceful I will buy you a pint. The horrible and appalling acts you list are however, not a licence to commit genocide and you are confusing ISIS and associated fanatics with the rights of ordinary Palestinians.
If a two state solution could be found much of the terrorism against Israel would stop although it seems the Muslims would then descend further into a sectarian conflict. Anyway this is not usually a website that discusses the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Elliott – I will preface my remarks by pointing out I was prepared to give Mr Trump the benefit of the doubt and actually defended him against most ‘perceived wisdom’ he was an accident waiting to happen internationally. I supported his State visit to the UK when probably 90% of the UK were against it. The PM was right to invite him then and it remains right now. He is the Head of State of our most important ally and sometimes we have to shake hands with people we would rather not have to. Well here is that ‘accident’ I… Read more »

sjb1968
Guest
sjb1968

Chris a great post and similarly for me Trump is becoming a total liability.

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

No he has not just recruited more ISIS fighters. These people have been chanting death to the west since the first radical realized he could manipulate the word of his prophet to attain power. The Palestinians did not have their lands “stolen”. Right of conquest through war is one of the oldest institutions of mankind. I am well aware of how Israel was born. The Arabs attacked the Jewish immigrants FIRST and repeatedly. The Israelis created defense groups when Britain repeatedly refused them justice for their murdered families. Then not to finish there the UK decided to try and curtail… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Elliott – You just eloquently proved my various points that Americans, and therefore sadly their leaders, really do not have a clue and happily scoop up whatever historical re-write suits their agenda. Quote: ” The Arabs attacked the Jewish immigrants FIRST” Oh did they really? So when was that then? Are you referring to the Arab rebellion against the British in the ’30s? they didn’ attack the Jewish community. According to Gordon Welty in his respected 1995 book: “Palestinian Nationalism and the Struggle for National Self-Determination” Philadelphia: Temple University. page 21. ISBN 1-56639-342-6. “The Irgun began bombing Palestinian Arab civilian… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

First the time rioters decided it wouldn’t be a bad way to spend the afternoon massacring Jewish people in Jerusalem in the 1890s second the Arab Insurgencey 1930-35, Arab Revolt 1936-39 note major Zionist insurgency did not begin until late 1944. If you think people don’t get killed in the crossfire of a revolt you are amazingly high.By the way I did read Mr.Yelty’s book, it was more liberal trashing and ignored anything that did not suit his Palestinian fetish. Also thank you for your classism towards the American working class who make up the bulk of the Army and… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Elliott – Did I use the word ‘racist?. No I bloody didn’t. But you just peddled it to deflect the argument. Have US Police shot more blacks than whites (on a Per Capita basis)? – Well sadly yes they have. And did I call the whole of the US population ‘Redknecks’? No I bloody didn’t do that either. But again you misrepresent to justify a false following statement. I was referring to YOU and your inane comments. You just can’t take criticism can you? You have to turn any personal comment into a slagging of your country. Grow up …..… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

Really complaining over a typo. Suffice to say I have read the book. No it is not on my bookshelves anymore I donated it to my local library. Along with numerous others I knew I was never going to read again. Do not use pluralities and generalize if you intend to impugn in the singular ,“You are terrorists in your own country.” “Your moronic police kill without thought.” Considering I just attend the funeral of a state trooper who would be alive if he hadn’t wrote a speeding ticket to a drug dealer out on parole. As it is he… Read more »

David Stephen
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David Stephen

And if you believe we basicaly built the US 2 carriers at about £6.5 billion you are smoking PCP.

Tim Uk
Guest
Tim Uk

Read the article. It’s about us maximizing the strategic dependence the US will have on the two carriers. Create reliance to deepen the alliance. Same with the key UK work in the JSF program. Of course in times of non peer warfare we can “project” prescence across the med and middle east but I guarantee GCHQ has more power to take a nation down than a carrier. If the UK was serious about lethality at sea we should have licensed the arleigh burke design and pumped out 20 loaded to gills with cruise, aegis and anti ship missiles and doubled… Read more »

Bloke down the pub
Guest
Bloke down the pub

‘They also warn that while the MoD has brought forward Lightning costs originally planned for after 2020, so that two squadrons of jets are available sooner. The total forecast spend of £5.8 billion on Lightning procurement to 2020 could change if foreign exchange rates shift and the total number of jets on order globally varies. It should be pointed out that the value of the pound against the dollar has gone from about $1.20 at the start of the year to about $1.35 now, so the dire consequences that were being warned of shortly after the Brexit vote don’t seem… Read more »

Harold
Guest
Harold

Poor old Andrew. Down to a couple of big ships whilst the few remaining escorts are tied up in harbour and of which there is no news at all. We have paid dearly for these two poorly equipped carriers compared to the 50 plus aircraft including strike aircraft on board the old Ark and Eagle and their rightful replacements the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Duke of Edinburgh CVA01 & CVAO2 & CVA03 (Victorious replacement) and accompanying Type 82s. Now, they were ships along with the Albion and Bulwark, Centaur, Fearless and Intrepid, Lion, Tiger & Blake and destroyers and… Read more »

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Very disappointed by the BBC, there coverage of the commissioning of QE was minimal at best, and mentioned the cost in every other sentence. I think 3.1 billion for 50 years service is a bargin. It’s peanuts in the grand view of government spending

sjb1968
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sjb1968

Including an extra £1bn to build the ships more slowly. We have great leaders don’t we?

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

BBC? I’d abolish the licence fee tomorrow if I could. Brussels Broadcasting Corporation, poisoned by PC.
Together with the Guardian totally against the nations armed forces, and, in the case of the Guardian, GCHQ.

Tim62
Guest
Tim62

@Daniele you must be looking at a different BBC to the rest of us. Any evidence that it is ‘totally against the nations armed forces’?

Having a publicly funded broadcaster is one of the many great things about the UK.

best Tim

Rick O'Shea
Guest
Rick O'Shea

Lots of constant criticism, do you have anything useful to add?

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Look them up. I cannot be bothered to tell you.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

And yet in other posts previously you want the army cut even more, despite your obvious glee that it is indeed small already. Contradiction. If it is so small already does not need cutting does it?

As usual your post smacks of vindictiveness and glee at the troubles of the military.

You really are a nasty little shite aren’t you?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

He may be 6’2 who can tell………

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

“It’s not me cutting back on the defence budget, remember that.” Pointless reply. “But what I have always forecast will surely come true.” As I have replied to you on that point already, cuts in 91,95,98,2004,2009, all the time in between, 2010, 2015, and pending. No one disagrees, it is the attitude and reasoning towards them. “more suited to a medium sized country.” Medium in what fields? Militarily certainly, with some areas where the UK punches above its weight. A country that has worldwide engagement, wide ranging soft power, cultural diplomatic and military ties due to language and history. The… Read more »

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

Seems like a sensible report from the NAO, highlighting the risk points to the ongoing carrier project. All large projects military and commercial have similar stress points, and identifying them thoroughly is a means of minimising the downside and focusing resources where neccessary, while allowing perhaps easier and less-resourced phases between the stress points.

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

The full answer to your question is probably around 150, plus or minus a few tenders.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

150?! You must be including ships Pacific RIB’s, RM small boats and SD Tugs in that number dads.

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

80

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

Yes, it was a bit of a tongue in cheek reply to TH’s “… and small vessels” !

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

You’re excused then 🙂

Harry Nelson
Guest
Harry Nelson

I find it truly hard to believe you have friends…….. sorry “pals”!

Julian
Guest
Julian

Jonathan – I suspect Daniele might have meant little in mind (some or all of character, intellect, emotional intelligence etc) rather than physically. Harry – I had the very same thought myself. Daniele – I suggest not trying to look for sense or consistency. I suspect that TH randomly tries to press various buttons, often without really understanding anything about them, to try and elicit a response. Look how goading and inflammatory his (or her? Not sure which since it’s a gender-neutral user name) wording is in this last post. When pushing the various topic buttons fails another favourite button… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

Strikes me that TH has a lot in common with a certain US politician. They are both tweeting twits who turn up unexpectedly.

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

This is all going to plan – the problem is that the general public don’t understand it properly. A tv programme similar to the one on Crossrail (the billion dollar railway) would go a long way to building the profile and showing everyone just what a fabulous achievement this is for our country. My only issue is it seems to me that capability gaps are not receiving the right treatment from the treasury in that we cut a key element of defence with a plan to re-instate later, but that cost is far greater than if we had continued. Surely… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I think I recall a poster here confirming there will be a programme on QEC in the new year.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Danielle – Jon Snow is doing one as I recall. So it will at least be informed

Chris
Guest
Chris

** Dan Snow **

D’UH

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

LOL. John Snow, from Ch4 news…enough said.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Dan Snow should be pretty good. At least he is historian (a 1st from Oxford in modern history) so hopefully will look with an objective eye and, if adding his own colouring, it will be to add historical context and comparable events rather than a journalistic angle of looking for downsides, claims of government incompetence and/or misjudgement and all the other usually imaginary muck that bad journalists often try to find (or invent).

Tim62
Guest
Tim62

I’d hardly call Dan Snow a great historian….. he’s far too boyishly enthusiastic about death and destruction. But all that said, he should do a good job on the carriers.

Julian
Guest
Julian

In fairness to me I didn’t call him a great historian, just a historian. My reference to his degree wasn’t to claim greatness but rather to show that he had clearly applied himself to his studies. Even if Dan Snow is not considered in historical circles to be a worthy academic I would still prefer, if any presenter’s observations are injected into the documentary, for those observations to be through the eyes of a historian rather than some journalist hack who feels that he or she needs to uncover and highlight some negative stuff even if it isn’t really there… Read more »

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

TH Yawn back to you- why do you not just shut your computer down and save the power over there in Moscow- or does the basement of the Kremlin have its own nuclear power generator? are you allowed to divulge? On a more realistic point- the QE carriers should be the focus of our navy and we should rebuild our fleet after years of what appears to be terminal decline. Russia and China are building up their fleets at a break neck speed- we need to match this with enough warships, submarines and weapons to face down these threats. Everyone… Read more »

Dan01
Guest
Dan01

Considering that it had no defensive weapons quite easily I expect.

barry white
Guest
barry white

TH Sorry for the lateness The Atlantic Conveyer was hit by Exocets she was never sunk by them the Brits sank her as she became a hazered She was hit by those Exocets for one reason That reason was the fact that the Conveyer and RFA Regent where used to block the route of those missiles and so defend from attack HMS Hermies I was on Regent at the time and it would have been a big bang if we had got hit as we where an ammunition ship LOL We where guinea pigs to save a carrier Was not… Read more »