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|HMS MAXTON M1165 - SUEZ CANAL CLEARANCE - 1974|
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"Operation Rheostat "
Suez Canal Mine Clearance
On 27th March 1974, HM Ships MAXTON and ABDIEL, after ammunitioning ship/storing at our base at HMS LOCHINVAR (Situated at Port Edgar, nr Edinburgh, Scotland) joined BOSSINGTON and WILTON at Gibraltar to make up the UK part of the International Task Force formed to clear the Suez Canal of explosive ordnance left after the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. They formed Task Group 65.2 for what was named OPERATION RHEOSTAT (known as OPERATION NIMBUS MOON/STAR by US Forces). After a short stopover at Malta, the Task Group arrived off Port Said on 7th April 1974.
On arrival, BOSSINGTON, WILTON and MAXTON hunted the approaches to Port Said to establish a swept channel for ABDIEL to join and enter Port Said. MAXTON was the first to enter Port Said, and ABDIEL entered and berthed alongside the Suez Canal Authority HQ Building, which was to be our support base for the first part of the operation.
Minehunting continued in the approaches to Port Said and in the proposed anchorage area for the American LPH USS Iwo Jima, who arrived later and deployed their helos towing minehunting sledges to attempt to clear some of the approach areas.During the next few days, Port Said harbour and berths were hunted to clear any remaining ordnance and render the area safe.
On 25th April, BOSSINGTON and MAXTON sailed from Port Said to Dhekelia (Cyprus) for a four day standoff. Dhekelia was not the most ideal location, the ships having to anchor offshore and run liberty boats, so it was decided to move the ships to Famagusta, to berth alongside the British Army RCT base. It was in Famagusta that most of us developed a taste for Keo Beer and the wicker flagons of Keo Brandy - some more than others!
Both vessels returned to Port Said and commenced minehunting on the first section of the Canal proper on 29th April.
Hunting continued, working a 4 day on task/one day passage/one day standoff, usually alongside HMS Abdiel. Hunting lasted approx 12 hours per day, anchoring overnight in position ready to recommence in the morning. Items found included 2000Kg (and smaller) bombs, numerous anti tank rockets, unexploded shells, various other items such as AK47 personal weapons, grenades (in boxes!), armoured vehicles etc.
Minehunting continued until the canal was safe as far as Ismalia (Lake Timsah) when the Abdiel moved down to berth alongside a floating pontoon at Ismailia. Ismalia then became our operating/support base.
Crew Members On-Line
All photographs courtesy Dave Wilkinson unless otherwise stated
HMS Maxton cap-tally used throughout site courtesy of the Ton Class Association
My thanks for technical assistance and advice to Lobby Lowdnes (LostOppo.com), Rik furnival (Ton Class Association), Pusser Hills (HMS Juno Site), Bob Dollins (USS Barnstable County site) and various on-line gif. providers
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