Cracking image, this may be off St Vincent after crossing the Atlantic at the start of Global 86. We arrived over night and awoke to the spectacular view before us. It was so hot some of the flight slept in the flight deck safety nets. We had three Sea King Mk5 onboard, two in the hangar hence the third on deck, however looking at the position of this one she is at flying stations with the ground crew just outside the rotor disc in front of the hangar. Amazon in the back ground.
One of the reasons for the Global 86 was to test the new towed array sonar being deployed with the new batch 2 type 22 frigates (in our case Beaver) in the ultra realistic deep water exercise Rimpac 86 conducted off Hawaii. The original plan was for 814 Sea king squadron onboard Illustrious to be assisting Beaver & Swiftsure against orange forces, however due to a bad fire on Lusty we transferred the maximum number of Sea kings (3) to Fort Grange, these were hand picked as the most reliable from the 9 available to us. As it turned out the performance of Beaver's towed array far exceeded expectations and our ASW contribution was much reduced, in fact we reverted to surface search activities. In general we acted as helicopter delivery service, stores transfer and surface search as well as providing the ASW screen for the deployment, a few times we detached to Olmeda as well as operated from foreign warships or airbases along the way. the three Sea kings provided exceptional serviceability I think the side numbers were 067, 070 & 073.
The fire broke out within hours of leaving Portsmouth (UK), so she returned to Portsmouth for 4 months of repairs, we flew off and joined Fort Grange at Plymouth. Illustrious eventually caught us up at Singapore, (after we had been to Venezuela, Mexico, West USA, Hawaii, Pusan, Hong Kong, Brunei) but we didn't mention that too much!