and the Mirror has proved one of the greatest advances in Naval Aviation; it has not only cut down the accident rate, but also removed many of the hazards previously associated with deck landing. The ship last commissioned on 21st August, 1956, for trials, and, after a period of standing by for trooping duties to the Middle East, she underwent final modifications to equip her for "Grapple". Now she can carry out repairs to other ships and provide them with electric power; her cold storage for
fresh provisions has been enlarged and a heat-controlled compartment for scientific materials has been fitted. Other more normal features include a chapel with a small organ; a library with 2,000 volumes; a two-chair barber's shop; two canteens and an ice-cream bar and a cinema.
A few words about Warrior's aircraft. The Avenger is an American, three-seat, single-engined aircraft. By modern standards it is old and slow, cruising at only 140 knots, but its great load-carrying capacity and its rugged structure, combined with its excellent deck-landing characteristics, make it an ideal aircraft for Carrier operations. It can act in a number of roles, for instance torpedo bomber, anti-submarine work and reconnaissance, but in this Operation it will undertake the duties of a search and communications aircraft. For this, where long flights will have to be made over an inhospitable sea, reliability and load-carrying capacity are prime requirements and these. the Avenger fulfils admirably.
The Westland Whirlwind helicopter is the Royal Navy's latest air/ sea rescue aircraft. Their forward speed varies from 1 to 85 knots. They are very versatile, being readily adapted
for freight carrying, passenger transport or air ambulance roles, while the
R.A.F., as you will read later, is using them for air spraying. For short-range communications they are ideal, but their best known function is that of air/sea rescue. This they can do in either of two ways: by a Sproule net, or by a winch. The Sproule net is a net which is lowered from the helicopter into the sea and .which scoops the distressed person up. He is then brought back to base still in the net. In rough weather the winch is generally used. The helicopter hovers over the person in the water and lowers a strop on the end of the winch. The victim passes this strop round his body and he is then hauled up and into the aircraft. If the person is injured or unconscious, an aircrewman from the helicopter descends on the winch and secures the injured man to the hook at the end of the winch; both are then winched back.
H.M.S. Narvik, another L.S.T. and sister ship of
Messina, is quite the "old-stager" in the atomic theatre, as she has already played a part in two previous atomic tests. In 1952 she went to the Montebello Islands for Operation "Hurricane", the very first series of British tests, and she only returned last October from acting as Headquarters and Control Ship for another series, Operation "Mosaic", also at the Montebellos. This last time she had to return from Australia via the Cape, the Suez crisis interfering with her planned passage home, and the subsequent delay has caused Chatham Dockyard to work very hard indeed to prepare her for "Grapple". However, like
Messina, she has been fitted with up-to-date accommodation and is able to carry
L.C.M.'s and D.U.K.W.'s. As she will be required to operate as the Technical Control and Monitor ship