Falklands : FORMER CBF RECALLS HIS TIME ON THE BLACK PIG
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 09.04.2012 (Article Archived on 23.04.2012)
We remember her as the Black Pig – garbage scow extraordinaire and know of her past history.
FORMER CBF RECALLS HIS TIME ON THE BLACK PIG
By J. Brock (FINN)
We remember her as the Black Pig – garbage scow extraordinaire and know of her past history. Before leaving his post as Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands Commodore Philip Thickness (PT) told FINN about his role as the Black Pig’s skipper and shed light on the vessel’s first duties under Falklands’ ownership.
FINN: During your 1982 deployment in the Falklands I understand you did a stint on the Black Pig. Was there any nostalgia when you saw a picture of her trussed up in graffiti in an Argentine port?
PT: It was so sad because the adventure I had in the Black Pig – the Yehuin, which we informally commissioned as the Falkland Sound – was the most extraordinary few weeks. I joined her alongside in Stanley the day after liberation and our early jobs were taking Argentine Prisoners of War back to the Red Cross ships. But then we had to take the fire fighting teams around to the Sir Galahad in Bluff Cove. It was an overnight passage and I can remember going back on HMS Fearless to get the charts. I was the second in command and navigator. Commander John Prime, who was down a few weeks ago, gave them to me and drew on them two rectangles and said he thought there were two minefields inside and wished us good luck.
It was a 12-hour over-night passage and the entire ships company of twelve were on the bridge around me while I navigated the ship using slightly dodgy radar that was aboard. We navigated in the shallowest water I could find inshore where I was absolutely certain there could not be a minefield. We were in greater danger of going aground but it seemed to be the better thing to do rather than being blown up. When I had finished that I knew I had done the most difficult thing in my life. That set the tone for the next few weeks on that ship and we had immense fun just doing stuff around the Islands. It was a most amazing job for a young officer.
FINN: Later named “The Black Pig” it was a garbage scow. Did you leave the ship before then?
PT: We did all that as well. We went around the ships anchored in Port William and they would hurl their rubbish on to the deck, which was dreadful, particularly when we were alongside the Uganda, which was the hospital ship. All sorts of ghastly things came down but they would also chuck down the occasional crate of beer as a reward. We dumped the garbage at sea then come back in and lived on the Government Jetty.
Ian the Captain and I would practice our seamanship skills by driving the ship alongside. I have no doubts we hastened the end of the jetty by our repeated and rather clumsy attempts to get her alongside.
FINN: When you were here in 1982 did you spend all of your time aboard ship or did you have an opportunity to live with a family?
PT: We were aboard ship – HMS Fearless – until Liberation day then we lived aboard Yehuin in Stanley Harbour. Stanley in June 1982 was a shambles and it wasn’t just all the detritus of war but there were huge heaps of weapons all over the place – containers, artillery pieces and prisoners of war. Stanley was clearly on its last legs and while the war was the worst thing at the time – it did the Falklands a lot of good. To come back now and see this amazing, thriving, cosmopolitan, attractive town is very uplifting. In a sense it represents all that was worthwhile in that 1982 adventure – to see this potentially rich and thriving Stanley – it is nice to see it.