April 1st:. ALACRITY sails from Portland Harbour to take part in the 'Thursday War' (the weekly large scale exercise to test ships undertaking their sea training period) unaware that a real war was looming. As always we won that war.
APRIL 2nd. In the very early hours a signal arrives with the instructions to 'make all preparations for war' . All departments commence the detailed preparations for action 8,000 miles from home. The supply staff do their best to strip Portland Naval Base of just about everything that could be moved.
ALACRITY sails for Devonport to complete preparations. After a hectic period taking on stores, personnel living locally were granted weekend leave. Those living at a distance had to deal with the difficulty of saying goodbye and reassuring loved ones over the telephone.
New joiners were drafted to build up the war complement- Surgeon Lt. Cdr Stephen Shaw was about to start his terminal leave in preparation for life as a civilian GP and had to put his plans on hold. One of many caught up in the hectic pace of the preparations for war.
Ascension Island and 'Hands to bathe'
Very shortly after anchoring at Ascension Island the Captain had 'hands to bathe' piped. Eager sailors couldn't resist the call of warm waters and the sea was soon full of happy, frolicking men and small black fish that didn't seem much bothered by all the human activity. Half an hour later it was time to return to normal routine and we reluctantly climbed back on board. As soon as a ship comes to anchor a keen angler always appears with rod and line and this day was no exception. As we scrambled over the flight deck rail some of us noted that our duty angler caught a fish, one of the black ones, but by the time he had reeled it in much of the fish had been eaten by its colleagues. Later that day a logistician from Ascension came aboard to arrange stores transfers. When he heard about our pleasant swim his jaw dropped and he remonstrated with us. It seems that not only are the waters around the island shark infested (with all the aggressive types) but the little black fish had a reputation akin to that of their Amazonian(piranha) cousins. We heard later that a Royal Marine had been attacked by these same fish whilst swimming in the dock of the LPD, and had suffered severe bites. 'Hands to bathe' could never be the same again.
April 30th: ALACRITY receives an order to 'scare-off' an Argentine trawler, the NARWHAL, that had been lingering in the vicinity of the task force. Just before midnight ALACRITY closes with the trawler. All lights are extinguished on ALACRITY and the rapid interception monitored on his radar must have given NARWHAL cause for concern. NARWHAL entertains the bridge team with a barrage of calls over the VHF and after being illuminated by ALACRITY's searchlight is 'requested' to leave the area as quickly as he can. As the trawler heads north at speed a star shell from the 4.5 gun is fired over the fleeing vessel.......just to reinforce the message!. NARWHAL was in fact formally monitoring the position and activity of the Taskforce and had Argentine intelligence personnel on board.. The message was clearly not fully understood: NARWHAL was later sunk for her sins but not by us.