Roughers: Photographs of warships fighting the elements
Compiled by Mike Critchley and Steve Bush
Published by Maritime Books
Lodge Hill, Liskheard PL 14 4EL, Cornwall, England.
E-mail: email@example.com. ; Website: www.navybooks.com; Price: £14.95 (soft cover)
Reviewed by Vic Jeffery
This is a superb book, clearly targeted at sailors and anyone with a love of the sea. It is 96 pages of superb full-page black and white captioned photographs of warships fighting the elements in some of the foulest weather imaginable. The theme of the book is set by the opening shot of the battleship HMS Benbow pushing hard into a gale in the Bay of Biscay in the mid- 1930s, followed by a series of shots of R class battleships trying to maintain station (same era) with a huge swell running. Other photographs included are the cruiser HMS Sheffield in February 1943 in one of the worst storms to hit the North Atlantic. Unable to make headway in the mountainous seas, she hove to whilst facing winds of up to 150kph and rising seas. As the mountainous seas crashed down on the ship they partially ripped away the roof of ‘A’ turret allowing hundreds of tons of seawater to enter the ship in a storm which Sheffield endured for 12 hours before it began to blow itself out. All forward decks were damaged, ‘A’ turret was totally bent and jammed and the ship had been blown 200 nautical miles off course.
There is a somewhat eerie photograph taken at midnight in the Arctic Circle in 1943 which depicts the battleship HMS Anson almost disappearing from sight as she steams into a heavy swell at high speed. Another superb battleship shot shows HMS Duke of York firing a 14-inch broadside in 1942 with the seas breaking over the decks in the region of ‘A’ turret. Carriers are not exempt from the weather either, and there is a graphic photograph taken onboard commando carrier HMS Bulwark caught in a hurricane in the North Atlantic on January 16 1974 with a towering sea hovering over the flight deck.
Also depicted is the Royal Australian Navy ‘out there’ in all weathers. Of note is the frigate HMAS Macquarie crashing through a swell in the Great Australian Bight in 1952, and the Daring-class destroyer HMAS Vampire performing the same feat in 1969. More recently there is a 1997 shot of the present day frigate HMAS Anzac punching through the icy wastes of the Southern Ocean as she heads south towards Heard Island patrolling for illegal fishermen. A most enjoyable book, which any seafarer will thoroughly enjoy.