The Engine Room During Air Attack.

Hugh Ferguson
13th July 2010, 19:15
During a prolonged bombing attack such as we endured, engine and boiler room resemble the inside of a giant's kettle against which a sledge-hammer is being beaten with uncertain aim. Sometimes there was an almighty clang; sometimes the giant, in his frustration, seemed to pick up the kettle and even shake it. The officer detailed to broadcast a running commentary suffered a breakdown during the battle so we heard little below, but through the noise and heat of the machinery spaces we came to understand what was happening on deck. Suddenly more speed would be called for, then we would hear our 5.25in turrets opening fire which told us aircraft were attacking. Next the bridge telegraphs might move to Emergency Full Speed and we would see the rudder indicator go to hard-a-port or starboard at the moment of bomb release. This would be followed by the sound of Naiad's short range weapons as the bomber pulled out of it's dive or the torpedo bomber dropped its torpedo. We learned to interpret, by the ensueing shake or shudder or clang, the success or otherwise of our navigator's avoiding action. Occasionally the damage control officer would ring me with reports of damage received or casualties suffered; occasionally my valiant chief stoker would report the fuel expenditure and his plans to keep the boilers supplied as our fuel reserves dwindled or seawater contamination from near misses adjacent to some tanks showed up in his scrupulous testing.
From time to time my chief or I would visit the boiler rooms . Here, for hour after frightening hour, with ears popping from the air pressure, the young stokers knew and heard little of what was going on apart from the obvious near-misses and the scream of the boiler room fans. On their alertness, as they watched for orders to open or shut off oil sprayers, depended the precise supply of steam available to meet the sudden changes of speed ordered from the bridge, on which Naiad's survival depended. The more imaginative amongst them, no doubt, tried not to think which would be worst, to be boiled by superheated steam, cremated or drowned. Commander Marshall and I, in our respective engine rooms, spoke often by phone and when not visiting the boiler rooms one or other would go round the damage control parties and tell the bridge of the situation down below.

(A passage taken from the book, The Man Around The Engine, by Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly KBE CB OBE DL Chief Engineer).

13th July 2010, 20:46
A fascinating book, John Kerans, who was later to command HMS Amethyst at the time of the Yangtse Incident was serving in Naiad at the same time.

Hugh Ferguson
13th July 2010, 21:23
So he was, I hadn't noticed that in the book. I was 3rd mate of the Glenartney bound Kobe from Hong Kong when, knowing that we would pass H.M.S Amethyst following her escape from the Yangste during my 8 to 12 evening watch, the captain had left orders for the congratulatory signal he wished to be sent. Sure enough, up she came with the usual, "What ship?" about 2300. I responded with our message. She must have had a signal log full of them by the time she arrived home!