Mention has been made of the L.C.M.'s and D.U.K.W.'s used in the landing operations, but something should be said under this heading about the N.L. (Naval Lightered) Pontoons which have also played an invaluable part. Two are being used with large diesel outboard engines as cargo-carrying ferries manned by the Army, and two others as piers which have cranes mounted on them.
They were assembled in England by the Royal Engineers at Marchwood and shipped to Christmas Island as complete rafts in the S.S.
Ben Wyvis. The basic principle is that rafts of various sizes are built up from a number of 5-foot cube watertight steel boxes joined together in a steel framework, and if necessary they can be readily put together actually at the scene of operations. Originally developed by the United States during the war they were extensively used at all the great wartime landing operations.
Early in March the Naval element of the Task Force will be completed with the arrival of H.M.S.
Warrior and H.M.S. Narvik, together with two frigates of the Royal New Zealand Navy, H.M.N.Z.S.
Pukaki and Rotoiti.
H.M.S. Warrior will act as the Operational Control Ship in the target area and will wear the broad Pennant of Commodore P. W. Gretton, D.S.O., O.B.E., D.S.C. (Commodore Grapple Squadron). Her radar will be used to keep track of all the
aircraft in the vicinity, especially the dropping aircraft, but besides this all-important task she will also act as a weather reporting station, while her aircraft will be able to carry out the duties of search, communications and air/sea rescue in conjunction with the
R.A.F. Furthermore, she has recently been modified in order to be able to support and maintain many of the ships in the Force.
Her official description is a Light Fleet Carrier-her displacement is only 14,000 tons compared with the 37,000 tons of the giants Eagle and Ark Royal. The flight deck is 700 feet long and she is capable of a speed of 24 knots. Her normal complement consists of about 120 officers and 1,100 ratings, but as she will only carry three aircraft and four helicopters for this Operation these numbers will be somewhat less. The Ship's Flight will comprise merely 6 pilots (3 of whom are cross-trained to fly both Avengers and Whirlwinds), 2 observers, 3 aircrewmen and 2 telegraphists.
H.M.S. Warrior was launched in 1944 and was straightway loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy, so having the distinction of being the first carrier to be operated by a Dominion Navy. After being handed back she became a Trials Carrier, and then in mid-1950 she was used as a fast troop and store ship to the Far East for the Korean War until the end of 1951. After an extensive refit she was commissioned as an Operational Carrier in mid-1953 and again saw service in the Korean and French Indo-Chinese areas. One of her missions there was to take 3,000 Vietnamese refugees in two lifts from Haiphong to Saigon. During the three days' passage the population increased to
3,003 Afterwards the Ship and Ship's Company were awarded the Medal of Friendship by the Vietnamese Government. Further modifications in 1955 resulted in her being fitted with
5½ degree Angled Deck, the Mirror Deck Landing Aid and facilities for operating jet aircraft. The combination of the Angled Deck