FILE PHOTO (23 July 1982): HMAS Otama in Sydney Harbour. Photo by Marius Bar Toulon.
Twas February 1978….[might have been January], the location was HMAS Otama up the very end of Loch Long at Arrochar – a quaint little Scottish village with a Royal Navy torpedo firing test range on the other side of the loch.
The road curved around the loch as this was the end of Loch Long, and that distance between the village and where the boat was tied up was about 500 meters.
Anyhoo we were going to be up there for 2 or 3 days, firing a Forends full of practice torpedoes out in the loch, to ensure all the weapons systems functioned as per the brochure.
We would slip from the little wooden wharf, go out into the centre of the loch, dive and fire the weapons.
The RN had cameras and acoustic sensors set up to make sure all was tickty boo.
And so, we get leave first afternoon arriving in Aarochar.
It had a beaut pub, which is where we all were.
Alas, I was the youngest member of the crew and therefore, fair game for all sorts of shenanigans.
On this occasion, these shenanigans took the following form…
There was a very large girl at the bar, I do remember that. I remember the Chief Stoker laughing and talking with her and occasionally, they would look over to the group I was with and laugh.
Gee, they’re a friendly mob I thought to meself.
The night progressed.
In true submariner fashion, I was as full as a scrub tick, and what’s more, I’d trapped. There was this LARGE Scottish girlie by my side [joined at the hip].
She took me home.
Mercifully, I don’t remember much after that.
Leave expired onboard the boat at 08:00. I awoke and my watch said 07:50.
I sprang out of bed like a startled gizelle and hopping towards her front door one leg in, one leg out of my Jeans, I bid the maiden fare-thee-well and opened the front door – and looked into a solid wall of fog – pea soup.
My watch said 8 mins to 8 – shitonastick.
I felt my way to her front gate, then tapped my way to the gutter, then across the road that lead around the Loch to the RN base, with hands out, feeling my way the 500M to the gate.
I could clearly hear the boat fixing to slip from the wharf – they would sail on Radar.
At about the last 200 meters, I started to yell – “Hold up you lot I’m coming!!!”
But it was to no avail. The dirty rotten bast**ds sailed.
I reported to the RN Warrant Officer running things. He got on UHF and asked the CO if he wanted me transferred out to the boat in their RHIB.
The CO said no.
So my time adrift from the boat, was now going to balloon out to hours instead of minutes.
So anyway about 13:00 the boat comes back alongside the little RN base, I report to the Chief Coxn and he charges me for being about 5 hours adrift.
That’s life in a Blue Suit.
About a week later, we were tooling around in the outer Clyde River, and during a quiet time the CO bottomed in about 200 feet of water on the sandy bottom, and he decided to have his ‘Table’ [Requestmen and Defaulters].
I was a defaulter.
So anyway, I get brought before the old boy and he lashes me up, with 10 days stoppage of leave.
I saluted and dissappeared before anybody figured out, we were still to be at sea for at least 12 days.
Nar nar nar nar NAR.
It was only years later I learned, the whole thing had been a big set up.
ABROSM RJ Fishbourne VD [Scar] [Bar] and Sidecar