GMT ICPC Race Headquarters Pendennis Castle Falmouth . England
Mike Trevelyan was perplexed. He was Watch Leader in the Race Operations room and was waiting for Xylonite to post her position in. All the other yachts had sent in their positions and their previous 12-hour logs three hours before at 1200 GMT. All the participating yachts had to send in these reports every 12 hours. This was primarily for safety but the other yachts could then see how they lay in the field. Nothing had been received from Xylonite.
If the position and report was not sent in manually, a PCS should have been sent in automatically by the GMDSS communications suite one-hour later anyway. This safety function which sent a PCS every six hours, but it also enabled the crew to complete a task they might have been involved in without causing alarm at Race HQ.This had not happened either.
“Ok Tim, I’ll check with them downstairs”
Mike was referring to the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre at
He picked up the direct line telephone to the Duty Officer, which would cause his telephone to ring immediately.
Chris Hoskins picked it up and said “Duty Officer.”
1525 GMT Race Headquarters.
Mike’s direct line from the MRCC rang. He picked it up and said “Mike Trevelyan.”
“It’s Chris. I’ve checked and nothing here. I also checked the rest of the fleet and they are all logged. What’s your next step and can I help?”
Mike replied “Thanks very much. We’ll call all of the fleet, at least the back markers anyway as she was next to last with that daft rig of hers. I’d like to leave it until 1900Z when the GMDSS should send a six-hourly PCS automatically. If nothing’s received then we’ll pass it over to you. I’ll give you her last position if you’re ready.”
He dictated the last position and course and speed. 38 deg 37.0 S 35 deg 29.0 W Course 225 degrees at 13.5 knots.
By this he meant that the MRCC would transmit a message on a safety channel to every ship in the South Atlantic and alert the AMVER organisation in
The Coastguard Watch Officer said “Ok, I’m due off at 1800 but I’ll brief the oncoming watch that a participating yacht has not reported and play it down. I’ll stay here until you tell us to make a shout.”
Mike replied “Thanks Chris and keep it to yourself for the next few hours.”
He slowly replaced the telephone receiver.
Tim had had no response from the first Transponder Interrogation. He was trying again using a different satellite. A direct call by satellite telephone had not been answered.
The last position of the Xylonite was approximately 1100 nautical miles off the coast of
This was getting serious.
1535 Paddington Railway Station
Admiral Sir David Hope-Squires dialled the direct line number to the Watch Officer in
“Mike it’s David Hope-Squires. What do you have?”
The WO replied “The Coastguard have not received anything. We’ve tried to access the transponder twice and also made a satellite call. Nothing.”
“Right. Keep trying. Are the Coastguard pressurising to take it on?” replied Sir David.
“I’ve asked them to wait until 1900Z when the GMDSS should chirp again. If no joy then I don’t think we should delay any longer.”
“I agree” said Sir David, “that would be irresponsible. That should give me enough time to brief the Press Secretary. I’ll return to Head Office and we’ll get a press briefing set up for sometime later tonight. That should keep the media away from you until tomorrow. I’ll fax you a holding statement to use, everything being handled here in
Mike thought this was the best course of action and said “Fine. The Coastguard will have their own press officer and I’d guess the pack will besiege them for information.”
“Yes, I’m sure they will. I’ll get onto The Commodore. OK Mike I’ll go back to The Ice House. I’ll imagine I’ll be there for some time.”
He replaced the telephone and picked up his bag and briefcase. He walked briskly back towards the taxi rank where he had arrived only five minutes earlier.
The Admiral was already planning. He had number of telephone calls to make.
1615 Her Majesty’s Submarine Sphynx, The
HMS Sphynx was mid-way through her five-month patrol as part of the British armed forces commitment to the defence of
The Army maintained a Garrison of 350 troops.
Today was near the end of an RnR (Rest and Recreation) and AMP (Assisted Maintenance Period). The submarine was moored alongside a Forward Repair Ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service in Mare Harbour, a couple of miles from RAF Mount Pleasant and Death Star (the nickname given to the garrison’s accommodation complex built in the early 1980’s).
About a third of the crew were ashore – either sightseeing on one of the Battle Field tours of the 1982
Those lucky enough to have been able to get ashore to stretch their legs would be returning by 1800.
Tomorrow was day one of another 14-day patrol. While the sub was in harbour the Royal Navy’s patrol vessel HMS Edinburgh Castle kept watch.