Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Royal Navy's finest!

click photo to enlarge
The photograph above shows the Royal Navy's latest warship on a visit to Fleetwood last year. "HMS Blackpool" is a back-pocket battleship featuring the most modern technology. Offensive capability includes twin guns and anti-ship missiles mounted above the bridge, with torpedo tubes located either side of the bow. Other weaponry includes a state-of-the-art lighting array covering the ship which is also pretty offensive when turned on at night. What might look like a rack of blue depth charge launchers is actually the back of the captain's sun-lounger. The modern navy believes that a tanned captain can tan anyone's hide. A yellow rescue helicopter is based on a platform high above the stern and the eyes of the ship are the all-seeing radar array based on the advanced model used by International Rescue to support their "Thunderbirds" fleet.

I interviewed the commander of HMS Blackpool, Captain Cudgel, and he told me that he was generally delighted with his new vessel. He was particularly proud of the short, high-tech metal "plank" inserted in the side of the ship. "It's about time we reintroduced the plank", he said with a wicked smile. "You don't have to use it: just knowing it's there improves the crew's discipline no end." However, he did have a reservation about the number of windows. "It makes us look like a damned cruise liner!", he foamed. He explained that they had been inserted at the insistence of the Ministry of Defence. Apparently many new recruits, enlisting through the advertisement "Join the Navy and see the world", were complaining that all they had seen were bulkheads. "I have no time for the whingeing of cosseted youth. They're damned lucky we don't still use the cat!", he snarled.

Captain Cudgel was at pains to explain that any resemblance between his warship and a converted tram used in September and October during Blackpool's festival of lights known as "The Illuminations", was entirely coincidental!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen