Signed in as:
Signed in as:
In June 1975, HMS Hermes, under my command, visited Quebec during a deployment to North America with 42 Commando, Royal Marines embarked.
On a fine afternoon during the weekend I went ashore for a walk on the Heights of Abraham with my wife, who had taken passage in one of our accompanying RFA's. When I stepped back on board afterwards, the Officer of the watch handed me an envelope addressed to me which had been hand delivered while I was ashore. As I went below, he said "I think it's a writ, Sir" He was absolutely right.
The writ was to the Marshal of the Admiralty District of Quebec, commanding him to arrest the ship "Hermes" and keep the same under safe arrest until you receive further orders. I must admit I was taken aback, but believed that this was illegal under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and probably under British and Canadian law also for one of the Queens ships. However my attempts to confirm this from the MOD or our Naval Liaison Officer in Canada were fruitless as nobody was in the office at the weekend. So I contented myself with signalling MOD (Navy) saying I thought it wasn't legal and I hoped to sail as planned on Monday.
When our departure time came, I was relieved to see tugs approaching to assist although I thought we could probably manage without them - and we left without incident. The affair received quite prominent cover in both British and Canadian papers, especially as Prince Charles was one of the 845 Squadron pilots at the time.
It transpired later that some libertymen had been accused of assaulting someone ashore, whose solicitor had sought the writ to restrain us. They were landed and subsequently acquitted. I am still awaiting a reply to my signal to MOD!
There was a probably unrelated sequel a day later. We had started RAS with the tanker attached on one side and the Ammunition and Stores ship on the other. A signal was brought to the bridge saying that the French Quebec party claimed to have placed a bomb onboard while we were open to visitors, timed to explode shortly. Although O thought this was pretty unlikely, prudence dictated that we immediately disengage from both RFA's and searched the ship. Unsurprisingly, nothing was discovered and there was no explosion, but it completed an exciting and unusual courtesy visit.