I joined HMS Puma one grey day in August 1964, in the non tidal basin in Portsmouth. She was in a very sad state after a fire on the 18th June in the forward engine room caused I later found out by a dockyard welder catching some oily rags alight. It was not a very good introduction to my first ship. With of course nothing to do. I was relocated to HMS Rhyl on loan. A few months later we were once again ready for sea trials, and shake down proceeded by a trip to Portland for a work up. In April 1965 we were sent on a recruiting drive called “Meet the navy. This would be the first voyage of the 1965 - 1967 commission. Filled with goggled eyed, and excited school children going to sea for the first time on Royal Navy warship.
HMS Puma second voyage across and around the South Atlantic was a young man’s dream. Of course to show you anymore faded black and white pictures, (if I had any that is,) would certainly not give you the beauty of the places and the people. If of course you instantly notice the video's are of today not nearly 50 years ago, well just think of it like this. Those girl's grannies looked just like them. Finally if you feel there are too many girls in the videos, let me reiterate I was 18 and what would you think a young heterosexual male would look at on his travels. Museums? So here you can look at the commissioning book. Some African country's have hardly changed since we won what was its name all those years ago?
On the ship she was strangely a well thought out design, with its long range and shallow draft, it would have fitted well in the Falklands campaign especially in naval bombardment. The crew you could write a book about - maybe I should? Just change the names to protect a couple of us who would always be innocent. She was a great ship with a crew of piss-heads. Some from the lower deck, would later go on to become the Captain of Bulk carrier, a Concert Pianist, a multimillionaire, a well respected economist, author, artist and even a Porn Star.
Post script - I suppose every sailor in the Andrew will have his favorite ship. For me on board HMS Puma, it was like watching the sunset on the empire, and a crew of diverse misfits who you would want to be with in any conflict. Something in truth all these years later I was glad to have seen and experienced.
Here are some of the places we visited
Tristan de Cunna,
Diego Swarez, Tanatave, South Georgia,
Mal de Plata,
Ro de Janero
Dakar, Gibralter, Plymouth.