Paul Vassay – HMS Alliance

Paul Vassay, HMS Alliance

The first story on Alliance was January 1968, whilst heading back to Gosport from exercises in the channel, we were racing Ambush back to base. We had a racing trim on, stern lower in the water than the bow, doing 420 revs. on the engines. The crew were sat in their messes ready to get ashore, when there was an almighty juddering of the whole boat. The crew, due to training, had everything shut down, bulkheads, doors, engines etc. in less than a minute.

It turned out that we had run aground on Bembridge Ledge off the Isle of White. Ambush was sent back out to stand by us, so they didn’t get ashore for a while either. Once it was realised what the situation was, then most of the crew were airlifted off by helicopter, taken to Bembridge, where we stayed in a hotel over night.

The boat was eventually taken off the ledge and taken into the dockyard, part of the keel had to be replaced. After the repairs had been done, our first visit was to Manchester.

HMS Alliance reunion

We had a reunion in 2015, to celebrate 75 years since Alliance was launched. There was about a hundred ex-crew in attendance, along with wives, and there were a couple of chaps that were on Alliance on its first commission.

Paul Vassay