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More from the National Archives - MoD at it again!
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Post More from the National Archives - MoD at it again! 
London Daily Telegraph.

Why 'lost' jet pilot took ride on container ship

By Peter Day
Last Updated: 2:29am BST 02/06/2007

When inexperienced Royal Navy pilot Ian "Soapy" Watson got lost flying a Sea Harrier jump jet and landed the £7 million aircraft on the deck of a container ship senior officers reprimanded him for incompetence.

Now it has emerged that behind the scenes they were laying the blame elsewhere to try to get out of a £570,000 compensation bill.

A file released yesterday at the National Archives describes how Sub-Lt Watson, 25, ''incurred the Commander in Chief of the Fleet's Displeasure'' for displaying an unsatisfactory standard of fundamental airmanship.

But the Ministry of Defence file shows that he had completed only 75 per cent of the recommended flying hours in training before being pressed into service and was allowed to take an aircraft with a known radio defect.

An unnamed senior officer commented: ''I am speechless, as was Watson.'' Sub-Lt Watson had taken off from the carrier Illustrious off the Spanish coast on June 6, 1983 to conduct a Nato search exercise.

The crew of the 2,300-ton Spanish container ship Alraigo won a salvage claim and shared £340,000, with the remaining £230,000 going to the owners of the vessel.

Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka,
from the HD Committee and its decision.
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Post British Defence in Crisis 

It is unbelieveable! I would have thought that landing a Harrier on a container ship displayed airmanship of the highest order and deserving of a least a Commendation if not a DFC or similar. Take away the compensation, he saved himself and an aircraft worth £600.500.000. On the other hand, a Military Funeral and an Official Enquiry blaming the loss of the aircaft on pilot error would have, perhaps ,been a more satisfactory outcome for the faceless ones!



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Post Airmanship 
If the MoD or Royal Navy are looking to apportion blame in this case, they should go right back to the very beginning of this unfortunate business, and take an holistic view ::

Whoever allowed Sub Lt Watson to graduate from flying training having completed only 75% of the allocated hours should be disciplined.

I would suggest that the ‘known radio defect’ was shown in the aircraft’s maintenance log (Form 700) as an ADD – Acceptable Deferred Defect. The acronym ADD can quite legitimately be translated as “We need a specific spare part to repair this fault, but we have to make do because there are none available within the limits of our budget.”

The person, who declared this particular fault to be an ADD, simply because the part was unavailable, was undoubtedly under pressure to provide aircraft for the line, and would have had little choice.

Sub Lt Watson, because of his inexperience, should have been "under the wing of the Senior Pilot". If he was then this would not have happened; if he wasn't then the Senior Pilot is not entirely blameless

Sub Lt Watson would have been thoroughly briefed on his mission before he took off.

Knowing of his inexperience, the briefing officer was ill advised to have included him in this particular exercise, unless necessary supervision was to be provided.

Sub Lt Watson would not have been allowed to take off without the Authorisation Sheet being signed by an authorising officer.

The authorising officer should not have given his authorisation; unless, perhaps, he was briefed to fly in a pair with another more experienced pilot whose aircraft radio fit was fully functional.

Summary: Sub Lt Watson was nothing more than a victim of a litany of errors – a scapegoat, and those involved in his subsequent reprimand should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Airmanship can be a rather difficult attribute to describe outside the confines of aviation, but it basically means the ability to perform competently throughout the entire discipline of flying. Those accusing this man of “displaying an unsatisfactory standard of fundamental airmanship”, clearly have no knowledge whatever of the subject. This whole sad, unecessary business beggars belief.

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Senior Officers being ashamed Tony. Surely that is against Q.R.'s Laughing Laughing

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