Pendant Number: L10
(The name says it all)
HMS FEARLESS was an assault ship (11,060 tons) that was completed in November 1965. Fearless was built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast on the 19th December 1963. Ship affiliated to Scarborough and on later commissions had her main passageways named after streets in Scarborough.
During July 2002 I met Scouse Ron Hill B.E.M. on the Fearless. He was the Chief Radio Supervisor on the first commission and joined her in 1964 whilst the ship was still being built. Ron told me that the original pendant number of Fearless was going to be L3919 as this was the next number in the series allocated to all the Landing Craft - hardly fitting for a brand new style of Landing Platform Dock. Ron investigated the feasibility of a shorter number. It turns out that L 1-7 were already allocated to the French and L 8-9 the Americans. And that is how Fearless became L10 and her sister ship L11.
The Fearless was unique in design back in the Sixties, including brand new in concept of radio equipment. Ron found that the radio equipment handbooks were all empty! He tells me that as he was a 2 star Chief (Radio Instructor), he relieved Lt/Cdr Bryans who was later to become his future SCO (Ships Communications Officer) , that this was the reason he was drafted to Fearless as early as 1964. Thankfully for Ron he had two PO's that joined the commission in 1965 that were "good learners". He tells me that he had a good staff and that he has plenty of happy memories to look back on.
Fearless was used as the venue for the Rhodesian/UK government talks at Gibraltar in 1968. A signed photograph of the (then) prime minister Harold Wilson used to be on display amongst the other ship's trophies. I served on her from the 3rd of October 1972 to the late Autumn of 1973.
She took over the 'Dartmouth Training Squadron' duties alternately with HMS INTREPID, her sister ship. When she wasn't doing the 'DTS' Cruise, she would have the army and Royal Marines with us onboard doing exercises. Most of the time was spent in the Mediterranean on cruises, though she did sometimes go to Scandinavia. In between cruises she called back to the UK to load and unload cadets, soldiers, marines and stores.
HMS FEARLESS is a ship of many talents catering for a wide spectrum of use. However, due to the large number of personnel onboard I felt like just another number (or cog in the wheel) which made it very impersonal, unlike on the minehunters where we felt like we were needed and treated with much more value.
Fearless was a vital part of the Falkland Islands Task Force campaign in 1982.
Fearless remained in service until Monday 18th March 2002 and she then paid-off on the 2nd of August 2002 when she officially decommissioned and then de-equipped. Photos in "Ditty Box". Not bad for an old girl of 37 years. She was the last steam ship in the Royal Navy.
I had the good fortune to be invited to go onboard and look around her on the 4th July 2002, where I was presented with my old mess plaque "4L2 MESS - COMMUNICATORS".
On Tuesday 18th December 2007 she was towed to Ghent, Belgium for Breaking Up.