Reviewed at Spithead by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, on Tuesday the 28th June 2005

                                                                                                                                                                        

 

                                                                                                                                                                           The Naval Ensign and the Flag of the Host Nation

                                                                                                                                                       the UNITED KINGDOM

For those of you who were unable to be in Portsmouth for the IFOS WEEK, I offer this little explanation of the FIRST and SECOND events, namely the FLEET REVIEW and the DRUM HEAD CEREMONY.

THE ROYAL INPUT

This splendid event saw the Royal Family turn out in strength and was attended by Her Majesty, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, TRH's The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, HRH The Duke of York, HRH The Princess Royal and her husband Rear Admiral Timothy Laurence, HRH The Prince Michael of Kent an RNR Rear Admiral.

However, and nothing will convince me otherwise, I can't help feeling that H.M., and the First Sea Lord Admiral West, plus his subordinate officers present for the Review, were not entirely happy perched on the port bridge wing and bridge top of an ex merchant ship enroute to Review Her Fleet plus other ships of other countries.  H.M., suffers in silence me thinks and I would wager that she was sad that she wasn't embarked in a more resplendent ship, specifically of course in HMY Britannia. We had a close proximity view of Endurance sailing from SRJ made the more vivid with binoculars, and H.M. stood there, proud but somewhat disappointed I am sure.  However, that sailing occurred at 1130 on June 28th in glorious weather. Endurance doing what she does best down in Antarctica  - look for the next piece of text coloured pink to continue

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 and this is a  profile of her Commanding Officer Captain T M Karsten Royal Navy.

Captain T M KarstenCommanding Officer  - 

THE LAST DAY BUT ONE!
Captain T M Karsten Royal Navy


Tom Karsten was educated at Charterhouse and joined the Royal Navy in 1979. After initial training at Britannia Royal Naval College, he spent three years at Exeter University reading History. Between 1984 and 1987 he completed the first phase of his sea going career in Navigating and Watchkeeping appointments.

In 1988 he qualified as a Principal Warfare Officer and was appointed to the Towed Array Frigate HMS Sirius, carrying out operations in the Northern Atlantic and Mediterranean. From 1989 until the end of the Gulf War in 1991 he served as Flag Lieutenant to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, before joining the staff of Captain F6, assisting with the introduction of the Type 23 Frigate.

Appointed in Command of the MCMV HMS Bicester in 1993 he enjoyed a varied programme attached to the Fishery Protection Squadron and carrying out general Mine Warfare tasking. On promotion to Commander in 1994 he took Command of the frigate HMS Sheffield for 18 months of operations and exercises in the Far East, Gulf and home waters.

After graduating from the final Joint Service Defence College at Greenwich in 1996 he was appointed to the Ministry of Defence and spent a rewarding 2 years in the Directorate of Naval Plans, during a period dominated by the Strategic Defence Review. This was followed by a return to sea going duties as Staff Operations Officer to the Surface Flotilla.

On promotion to Captain at the end of 2000 he spent a year with the Royal Marines as the Chief Staff Officer Plans and Policy at HQRM before standing up the new Fleet Programmes Division under the Fleet FIRST reorganisation. He was appointed to Command of HMS Endurance in June 2003.
 

WHAT WILL NOT BE KNOWN BY 99.9% OF YOU,  IS THAT H.M.,  LEFT THE SHIP ON TUESDAY, AND CAPTAIN KARSTEN LEFT IT ON THURSDAY, SO APART FROM BRINGING THE ENDURANCE INTO HARBOUR FOR HER IFOS BERTH [see picture],

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  BEING THE PROUD COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE "STAND-IN" ROYAL YACHT WAS HIS VERY LAST FUNCTION IN COMMAND OF THE SHIP [NOTE: the James Clark Ross ship inboard of the Endurance {with a red coloured hull} is also a South Atlantic/Antartica ship but she is manned by the merchant navy flying the red duster, and is in need of a coat of paint - I hope that that is not too unkind because I don't know her recent sea record.

was preceded by the Trinity House Vessel Patricia, herself preceded by HMS Scott {H131} and followed by her Escort Ship, HMS Chatham {F87}, a Batch 3 Type 22 Frigate completed in 1989.  The Scott and the Endurance are manned mainly by "droggies" a pet name for the Hydrographic Branch of the Navy, and since they represented two thirds of ships in the Royal Line, I thought of D-Day! HMS Endurance is well known in the navy for her role in the Falklands War in 1982, but this Endurance is not the same ship.  In 1991 the navy wanted a replacement for the Falklands Endurance, and so for seven months they hired the M/V Polar Circle and renamed it HMS Polar Circle assigning a pennant number of A176. Later they purchased the ship outright and in October 1992 changed her name to HMS Endurance with a pennant number of A171. For all practical purposes {accommodation etc} she is a merchant ship. Her crew of 116 live inside a 91m long hull, of 17.9m beam and a draught of 6.5m. Her speed is 14.9 knots and she carries two Lynx helicopters. She displaces about twice as much as a standard frigate at 5129 tons. Her only weapons are small arms. Once at sea, the Royal line of ships were joined by other RFA's in which were embarked the usual dignitaries, so that the ships passing down the line at the Review proper increased from four to eight [I think] in all.  In addition to the change brought about by the absence of a Royal Yacht, for the first time ever, families of British R.N. personnel were allowed onboard their loved ones ships to witness first hand a Fleet Review - my, how the navy has changed since my day.

 

It is very confusing to get the full picture by watching television or by reading, especially when the broadcaster/writer does not really understand naval protocol, and I have yet to meet one who does. I say by watching television, but on this occasion the event was not broadcasted in real time nationally, and I have a relative in the North of the country where little is known of IFOS, this despite it being marketed as a NATIONAL EVENT.  That apart, from other sources one may have been led to believe that this was an event shared to the full by the people, so I will start by telling you that it wasn't!  For both events SECURITY was paramount and it is regrettable that the threat of terrorism marred these events as indeed it will spoil all other events in the future when VIP's are present. {ADDED 7th JULY 2005: Terrorist struck in the centre regions of London today killing many and injuring hundreds}. Marred is perhaps too strong a word for the SECOND EVENT {the Drum Head Ceremony}, for the audience were invited with prior proven identity vetting and supporting photographic ID. They were corraled in an area totally shut off to the general public by a steel rigid fence of about 2.5 metres high and the guest of honour was a lesser royal, namely HRH The Duke of York wearing the uniform of a Captain Royal Navy.  The event was well organised with a good balance of remembering those mariners who gave their lives for their country [internationally that is], with those surviving wars and conflicts passing on their experiences to the children [of several schools and colleges] so that they in turn will understand the sacrifice, and in their tender hands and minds, the sacrifice will not be forgotten or tarnished or called into question for the foreseeable future at least. The seating inside the round corral came in two distinctive colours, green, which was tiered in the traditional manner to ensure a good view and which were built on three sides, and in front  of these green seats, were blue  individual seats [untiered] where the big fellow in the seat in front spoils the view for you. I was surprised to see so many empty seats, and immediately in front of our position I counted 310 [give or take a few] blue empty seats from beginning to end.  It appeared to me that this was the case for the blue seats on the other side too, so to my {uncertain} knowledge, there could have been upwards of 600 seats not used, and this for an event with over-kill publicity, although I understand, at times, uncertain and unclear responses were given to those seeking the free tickets. Some of the pictures below in the album are of the Drum Head Ceremony and they have descriptive text added to them.

 

The first  event  {the Fleet Review} - see BRIDGE CARD at bottom of page - clearly was marred  by impenetrable security carried out by Royal Marines [with side arms] travelling in high speed raiding boats keeping people in small craft well away from the ships being reviewed, and this not just for the Review proper, but for the whole period of their anchoring in the Spithead/Solent areas.  From time immemorial, those standing on the shore in Gosport, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southsea have had poor views of the ships out at Spithead, although from experience the best position is Stokes Bay [over on the Gosport side] where the coast is nearest to the ships towards the western end of the reviewing line, and Portsmouth/Southsea when the ships are entering/leaving Portsmouth Harbour/Dockyard. Knowing this to be a frustrating problem [watching ships from a distance] a group of ex sparkers [John Eilbeck, Preston [Tugg] Willson, myself and our ladies [respectively Val, Brenda and Beryl] decided to pay the premium of 50 each to board a Blue Funnel Sight-Seeing Boat [based on Southampton but sailing from Gun Wharf Quay] to follow the Queen out to the Review. There were many of these vessels carrying in total, people in the low thousands, and all being controlled by QHM and MOD[N] etc. We followed on more or less in the wake of the Escort Ship, HMS Chatham, and proceeded to Spit Fort where we took up a position almost due south of the Fort range about 350 metres virtually on the Outer Spit Buoy [OSB -  famous to all in the seaman and communications branch of the R.N.].  If you look at my LAST picture in the Review Album below, our start position, and as you will read our position period, was in the vicinity of the letter 'A' just to the SE of where it says "TUGS". On this picture I have drawn two parallel lines, 'A' and 'B' , and neither is accurate or to scale although both are correctly orientated on a NW/SE axis.  'A' representing a line of  small or smaller vessels, which includes, tugs, minesweepers, submarines*, small frigates, small tall ships, small merchant vessels and to the western end, some destroyers and frigates.  'B' represents the 'big girls' [yes, ships are ladies] including aircraft carriers, assault ships, command ships, large support vessels [RFA's etc], large merchant ships, large tall ships, and to the western end, more destroyers and frigates.  Where you see the asterisk to seaward in the SE is the approximate position of the Cunard liner QE2 and from the passengers of that vessel came much criticism of her anchorage, which virtually denied them seeing the other ships in the Review and subsequently the evening firework display off Southsea Common beach.

 

* 3 British nuclear's [all our submarines are now nuclear], 1 French and 1 Italian none of which entered harbour for IFOS.

 

Her Majesty, embarked in HMS Endurance, took passage to the extreme SE region of the Review line, down to where the QE2 was anchored. There the Endurance turned to starboard and steered, I would guess, a course of 285 degrees making about 10 knots. She travelled along a track which took her up between lines 'A' and 'B', erring on the side of 'A', taking a 'cheer ship' salute from all vessels in row 'A' [which we could see extremely well through glasses] and of course from the big ships to port of Endurance.  At the western extremity of the Review line, Endurance came to port and steered a reciprocal parallel course down the Isle of Wight side of row 'B'. Another turn to port brought her to her anchorage which was more-or-less below the letter 'Q' in 'QHM' between rows 'A' and 'B'. With her throughout was Patricia, and she too dropped her anchor just Southsea shore-side of Endurance. Then began the "fast sail past".  This event, which was impressive, saw frigates and destroyers, doing, I would say 20 knots, coming from the marshalling area at the Stokes Bay [NW] end of the line and steering approximately 115 degrees, sailing past the stationary Endurance and saluting the Queen in a most impressive manner - certainly goose pimple prime time! Fittingly, they were led by an RN Ship {with other RN'ers in the following line}, then ships from many nations and the whole fast sail past was a splendid affair.   Then came the fly past, which involved an ASWACS Aircraft in formation with two fighters; a Nimrod with two fighters aft in the refuelling position but not actually refuelling; some Sea Harriers; a lone Sea Fury, and then many helicopters of all types including a Chinook from RAF Odiham. That, as far as the general public were concerned, was the end of the IFOS Fleet Review.

 

As I have already hinted, despite all, we were part of a group of privileged people who were at least near [but not close] to the action. For many onboard it was disappointing that we had to stay in a box, manoeuvring as and when, and on one occasion our sister sightseeing boat, skippered by our skippers father, collided with our boat giving us a good clout in the stern. On another occasion, and for our benefit, our young skipper wandered just inside the no go line. Within a matter of a minute or so, a high speed raiding boat approached our vessel from GREEN 90, slowed and turned a sharp 90 degrees to steer a parallel course to us, then an angry Royal Marine barked orders at our bridge telling our skipper that he had erred and to get the hell out of it - OTT I and others thought.  The following photographs below [taken by my wife] give you a good idea as to how close we were allowed to get, and through binoculars, we did have, at times, excellent views of the Endurance and many other ships.  The weather was glorious, but the sea was lumpy and several were seasick. 

 

Without doubt, at least in my mind, the ship which stole the show {and by the way I went onboard her, as well as the Endurance, the MASSIVE Russian destroyer [@ 536 feet long and 8500 tons full load, almost a cruiser] Admiral Levchenko [my second choice as far as really looking like a mean, fast and powerful warship] and several others during the second day of IFOS [1st July], was the Indian destroyer INS Mumbai D62 {for those who don't know, the new or different name for Bombay - where she was built}  and just four years old. She has beautiful lines, is a big destroyer and bristles with weapons, directors, aerials, radomes, radars, not to mention two big SeaKing helicopters on the flight deck. She displaces nearly 7000 tons, is 535 feet long and nips around at 32 knots.  These ships impressed me greatly and if you click here  you will see some of the photographs I took of both vessels.  I also visited the Vosper Thornycroft [VT] shipbuilding buildings which was an amazing experience. They are currently  building a Type 45 destroyer {the Dauntless}, and for naval enthusiasts, these are big ships at over 7000 tons.  There are several web sites which tell one all about their building etc, but I haven't found on these sites any detailed reference to their names vis-a-vis ships of former days. They are to be called DARING, DIAMOND and DEFENDER after the 1950/70 Daring's who had, respectively, the following pennant numbers and radio callsigns D05 GKYK - D35 GKYP - D114 GKYM and looked like this DAUNTLESS after the Danea Class Light Cruiser {click here} of WW1 to 1940's vintage,  callsign GEJF, scrapped in1946 and, it has to be said, a more recent HMS Dauntless namely that of the WRNS basic training establishment near Reading in Berkshire DRAGON  also a Danae Class Light Cruiser, callsign GEJL,  finished her life acting as a breakwater for the Normandy Landings in 1944 and DUNCAN after the 1950/70 Blackwood Class Frigate F80 callsign MTXD {click here although this is HMS Hardy}.

 

Now for those promised pictures {The Review Album}, although please remember the limitations  imposed by MOD[N] security and of course my wife's photography - sorry love, didn't mean to be critical.

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The Drum Head Ceremony was a moving affair and well conducted . HRH The Duke of York, wearing the uniform of a Captain R.N., was the Guest of Honour.  The Service was ecumenical and conducted by the Bishop of Portsmouth. In the following small Drum Head Ceremony Album you will see various aspects of the ceremony.  The Portsmouth Naval Cenotaph was to our right. On this occasion we were joined by another 'famous' sparker Charlie [Mike] Challinor and his wife Rita, but sadly, Preston [Tugg] Willson, who a few days before had had a general anaesthetic/surgery in Haslar, was exhausted by this time, and had to back out. Still he and his wife Brenda were there in spirit.

 

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Here you can see the Massed Bands of the Royal Marines playing and marching in the arena to start the Ceremony off. Through their front ranks you can just see the centre dais on which the Drum Head Ceremony took place and where stood the officiating clergy and the various people who carried into the arena the symbols of remembrance, of reconciliation and of peace to come.  The area had several large screens, so nothing was missed, and in addition, those not invited could watch the ceremony on several large screens dotted around Southsea Common.

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The Royal Marines Massed Bands perform in the arena. Note the tiered seating [coloured green].

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The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines marching past and around the centre dais with its blue carpet. The large white elevated cabin you see is where scores of security men observed the invited audience.

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Portsmouth beautiful Naval War Memorial in front of which stood the many Standard Bearers. The dais and those stood upon it had their backs to the Memorial directly facing the VIP seating which looked directly towards the Memorial but some distance away from it. Note the audio speaker and its gantry.

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Just right of centre you can see the Easterly wing of the Naval War Memorial and the many flags/banners flying along the sea front  which are sponsored by many companies to advertise and celebrate the IFOS/Trafalgar 200 event. Behind the make-shift mast there is an  audio speaker hung on its gantry and beyond that a large screen both making the mast look more fussy than it was. The camera is pointing at the mast which is being shown on the large screen on the left of the picture. The Standards flying just in front of the seating area are part of a very large number of Standards many of which are being paraded immediately in front of the Memorial away to the right. Note the many empty blue seats.  These, and many more, remained empty from beginning to end.

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Another shot of the Mast. The drop-down paintings {which are shown furled} were all made by local schools and colleges after many Naval Veterans visited their classrooms to relate their experiences.

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This is a photograph looking over to the VIP seating area, over to our left. HRH The Duke of York can clearly be seen wearing his Captain's uniform.  He is the first officer you see on the front row with his female ADC standing just to the rear on his right hand side.  This was taken at the end of the event and you can just see [over to centre right] the church dignitary with his cross leading the Bishop of Portsmouth's party away from the centre dais and out of the arena.

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A moving sight and as the cememony continues, HMS Illustrious sails past the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial enroute to her berth in Portsmouth harbour to get herself ready for IFOS which began the next day on Thursday 30th June. For the naval enthusiasts amongst you, note the new third mast [the one with a large radome on top] which all our carriers now have after major refit and modifications. HOWEVER, what the VAST MAJORITY of those watching didn't know, was that  this was probably  her last performance, for very shortly, in a matter of weeks, she will be laid up, ready to be used in case of conflict, but if that doesn't come by 2010, that's it, she will be scrapped.  That knowledge really doubles the poignancy of the event and it saddened me because I knew of this.

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Anticipation ! An event pre programmed and one much to look forward to. HMS Illustrious becomes visible from the arena area and starts her final run in into Portsmouth Harbour/Dockyard. Her majesty and timing fuelled the goose pimples which rose to a great height, making all present feel doubly proud.

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The painted banners, made by school college pupils are now unfurled and have dropped to show us their skill and the themes of their endeavours. The colours are brilliant, and the symbolism needed no added words.  The umbrella ? Despite being asked not to do so by the stewards, some protected themselves [and spoilt the view of those behind] from the hot sun.  The weather was glorious and came as a reward to all those who had put so much effort into building the arena and organising the event.

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Another view of the many empty seats around the arena.

Finally, I thought you might like to know the definition, in this case, of INTERNATIONAL. The following countries were represented either by a naval vessel or by a mercantile vessel {several by both}, be it a powered ship or a Tall Ship Sailing Vessel. 31 nations in all. So that we can judge fairly the level of success, I have sourced  the member States of the International Maritime Organisation and this is their URL IMO Member States with year of joining. {Note that Canada <1948> is the founder member and the Netherlands and the UK are joint second joining in 1949. 165 members, but I don't understand why land locked countries like Switzerland are members. Of these members, I quite understand that Iran might not want to come especially after their recent election results, and, whilst almost a paradox, why the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] wouldn't be invited given their continuing belligerence.  South Korea is the Republic of Korea. 31 members out of 165 represents an 18.8% turn out.  I don't think there would have been room for the other 81.2% although some, like the RNZN for example, were much missed especially by the RN.

I understand from a reliable source, that even though the RNZN were unable to represent their country at the IFOS this year, because of probable political reasons, make no mistake all of the RNZNers if they had had their druthers they would've been at the Trafalgar Celebrations, in their mother country, proudly standing side-by-side their RN counterparts

France Bulgaria Brazil Colombia Germany Indonesia India Denmark Ireland Italy Netherlands Norway Oman Poland Uruguay Serbia and Montenegro Russia UK USA Algeria Australia Greece South Korea Latvia Lithuania Pakistan Portugal Romania South Africa Turkey Canada

 

It was a wonderful experience, and I hope that this page may just fill in a few blanks for you. Best regards to you all.

 

Below you will find the BRIDGE CARD for TRAFALGAR 200.  Just one little annoying thing on it is the use of "FS" for French naval ships.  The French do not use it [just plain and simple Charles de Gaulle {for example} ] so why do we ?

 

Click here TRAFALGAR 200 BRIDGE CARD