Significant Incidents

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Tribal Wars

Tribal Class - HMS Nubian
HMS Ambuscade collides with HMS Mohawk in Devonport

"I’m an ex-Ambuscade rating and I was on her when this incident happened with Mohawk.
We were coming alongside Mohawk (Cdr Peter Abbott driving who had very recently taken over command from Cdr Anthony Harris) on a particularly gusty day and although we had two dog class tugs in attendance, Cdr Abbott in his wisdom decided to try and complete the manoeuvre unaided. It became very clear from where I was on the Forecastle that the manoeuvre was not going well and we gathered sideways momentum from the wind in the direction of Mohawk. On realising that we were very likely to hit Mohawk, the Forecastle Officer (Lt John Craddock) ordered very spontaneously “Forecastle Party, Turning Fwd, grab those fucking fenders quick!
The lads scrambled to get the rattan fenders over the side and managed to do that just in time but the sideways force of the ship was quite pronounced and Ambuscade was a fair bit bigger than Mohawk and had a much higher freeboard. Incidentally, Petty Officer Paddy Hurst (whom I knew from my days as a junior at Raleigh) was stood on the forecastle of Mohawk watching the developments studiously. As we impacted Mohawk, a gash appeared in her 01 Deck fwd port side which must have been one of the messes as bottles of spirit and other bar accoutrements began falling over the side.
As Ambuscade lurched into Mohawk, which subsequently lurched herself, Petty Officer Hurst steadied himself in a dignified manner and looked up at Cdr Abbott and shook his head from one side to the next. In a bit of a panic, the captain ordered full astern to try and alleviate the collision with Mohawk and in doing so, punctured the hull at the stern of HMS Phoebe astern of us. Phoebe was due to deploy the following day! Once the ships had stopped rollicking around on the berth, the captain then asked Petty Officer Hurst what he was shaking his head at and Petty Officer Hurst replied in a thick Northern Irish accent “Fucking dear me Sir”. The captain responded by saying “That will be all PO”.
I remember this incident very well and at the time I was an AB M). I joined Ambuscade as a Junior Seaman in Faslane out of build and left her in September 1977 – very reluctantly. I went on to enjoy 22 years in the RN and even though I had some great sea drafts (always deployed!) I still rate Ambuscade as the best. Truly the best! "

AB(M) Nick Smith



HMS Nubian collides into HMS Ambuscade whilst alongside in Faslane

Tribal Class HMS Nubian -Notoriously difficult to park because of a single screw

It happened twice during my time as MEO, once alongside in Faslane and again in Devonport just as the paint was drying from the full repair of the first assault. On the first occasion the Tribal went straight into the Faslane floating dock she was so badly damaged. We were patched up in Yarrows the following weekend. I think the pic below is of the second occasion as during the first attack the foot of the stem of the Tribal came over the small quarter deck and on to the flight deck. The second occasion was somewhat more gentle! If my failing memory is correct the culprits were Nubian in Faslane and Mohawk in Devonport, but happy to be proved wrong!

Mike Townson MEO 1976-1978 & 1982-1982


Damage phot with culprit in background


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