Thursday, September 06, 2007

The ship that shot itself ...

I was indebted to The Times letters page today for the amusing story of HMAS Duchess, which during an exercise managed to shoot her A gun with her B gun. We can laugh at the incident because mercifully nobody was hurt - the ship sent off the memorable signal "Have shot myself."

Followers of naval trivia may be aware of the similar story involving HMS Trinidad. While escorting arctic convoy PQ13 in March 1942, this Fiji class light cruiser fired a torpedo which followed a circular course - probably the gyro had jammed in extremly cold conditions - and came back to hit the Trinidad herself. Sadly this story is not so amusing as 18 brave men were killed. Trinidad managed to get to Murmansk for initial repairs, but on the return voyage she was attacked by Luftwaffe bombers, one of which scored a hit near the previous torpedo damage and she had to be abandoned.

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