On 25th June, Armed Forces Day 2022, VOS and PNBPT collaborated to put on two ‘around the harbour’ trips in Landing Craft F8. Sailing from the pontoons outside Boathouse 4 in the Historic Dockyard, there were two embarkations carrying VOS veterans, some with their partners. They may not have been particularly long voyages but they were meaningful in this vessel which, whilst diminutive, crammed a lot of action into her Service life.
The trip took us past a visiting Japanese warship, our two aircraft carriers and an assortment of other maritime vessels. All the while, we were fed chunks of information from our guide, the well-informed and dynamic young Andrew who is planning to go on to form a career in the Royal Marines. Good luck, Andrew!
Weatherwise, it was a calm day but none of us returned quite as dry as we had been when setting-off, as a few drops of Pompey Harbour water made it across the sides when we turned into the oncoming tide to return to base! This only added to the experience and nobody complained. Indeed, there were a lot of plaudits and “thank yous” to the crew and staff of Boathouse 4 when each tour was completed. I think everyone agreed that it was a very good way to spend an hour or so of Armed Forces Day.
For those of you that don’t know much about LCVP F8, here’s some more information:
Originally designated as Land Craft Assault (LCA), Foxtrot 8 was redesignated Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) when attached to HMS Fearless in 1965. F8 was one of four vessels of its type carried on board HMS Fearless, which was sent to the South Atlantic during the Falklands conflict in 1982. With her sister craft, F8 played a major part in landing Royal Marine and army contingents on the Falkland Islands.
F8 saw nineteen years of active service with the Royal Navy & Royal Marines (4ASRM and HMS FEARLESS) around the globe including: the withdrawal from Aden (1965-7), Nigerian civil war (1969), Northern Ireland (1972), Cyprus (1974), Grenada (1974), Lebanon (1983) as well as the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)! However, perhaps the most meaningful for us at VOS, F8 is best known for her contribution in the South Atlantic during the 1982 Falklands campaign.
Together with other amphibious craft of 4ASRM, 6ASRM (HMS INTREPID), 1 Raiding Squadron Royal Marines and the Army’s Royal Corps of Transport, they were the landing force’s crucial link off the ships of the task force onto the beaches in order to liberate the Falkland Islands. They ferried 3 Commando Brigade ashore in San Carlos Water, otherwise known as “Bomb Alley”, from 21 May as part of “Operation Sutton,” maintaining a continuous flow of stores and support ashore afterwards, pausing only for enemy air raids. The landing force was reinforced by 5 Infantry Brigade from 30 May, again needing to be ferried ashore along with their kit.
F8 is powered by two diesel engines (similar to those found in a London bus). The propellers are located in recesses at the stern allowing the craft to be beached without snagging in sand and gravel. At only 43’ in length, and 10’ 6” in beam, she isn’t a large vessel. F8 can carry 35 fully equipped troops or two lightweight Land Rovers. On Armed Forces Day, with Paul the coxswain and Andrew the deckhand, we ferried 18 members and volunteers over two 25 minute mini cruises.
(Written by C. Kimber)
If you’re a veteran from the UK Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy (from any time of service) or a partner to one, VOS would love for you to join our community. We are here to offer our support: call us on 02392 731 767, visit an upcoming drop-in, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOS is immensely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, as without their support and funding we would not be able to provide activities such as this one.