Skip to comments.FIVE INCH FRIDAY: Defining moment for Anzac
Posted on 12/01/2004 2:58:47 AM PST by naturalman1975
At 0604 on March 21 HMAS Anzac (CAPT Peter Lockwood), often called the Lighthorse, began Naval gunfire in direct support of the British-led Royal Marine 40 Commando assault on Al Faw Peninsula in southern Iraq.
The assault began shortly before midnight on Thursday March 20, when HMAS Anzac was tasked as Scene of Action Commander, guarding the massive offshore oil terminals known as Kaaot and Mabot. Operating in sight of both pumping stations, less than 12 miles from the Iraqi coast, Anzac was to challenge and intercept any vessel that approached the terminals.
There was a very real fear the Iraqi military would quickly sabotage and detonate the terminals, forcing the coalition ships to abandon the assault on the Al Faw Peninsula.
Shortly before midnight, Anzac was informed that the US Navy SEALS had successfully seized vessels containing explosives and sea mines and taken control of the giant oil terminals of Kaaot and Mabot, heralding the next phase of the mission.
In the surreal moon-lit stillness of the northern waters of the Persian Gulf, Anzac received orders to proceed up-stream of the Khawr Abd Allah (KAA) waterway in company with HMS Marlborough to a position close to the peninsula and prepare for gun action.
With the ship closed-up at Action Stations and machinery running in a quietened state in case sea mines had been laid, Anzac crept up the murky brown waters of the KAA to within seven miles of Iraqi-held territory.
As Anzac slowly entered the waterway, the sound of explosions and huge thuds rang clearly through the night, often shaking the ship with percussion blows. Huge bright red and white flashes were seen in the distance and the air quickly filled with smoke and the acrid smell of cordite and sulphur.
One of the lookouts said: It was like standing down-wind of a bushfire. This was an eerie and unforgettable moment for the people of Anzac. Secretly, we all knew the mission would be a defining point in our lives.
Once in position HMAS Anzac reported Guns Up, Ready for Call to Fire to the Royal Artillery spotter on the nearby Al Faw peninsula. Shortly after dawn, Anzac began firing her 127mm (5-inch) high explosive shells into military targets and, for the first time in 31 years, the RAN engaged in combat naval gunfire support.
During the next three days, Anzac shook and shuddered as the firing of her 5-inch gun launched barrages of high explosive shells in support of the Royal Marines of 40 Commando.
Anzac conducted seven fire missions in total, with all rounds hitting Iraqi bunkers, destroying artillery strongholds and key military installations.
All of Anzacs rounds fell on their military targets with none harming civilian infrastructure.
The Naval Gun-Fire Support began with HMAS Anzac and was accompanied by the Royal Navy frigates HMS Chatham, Richmond and Marlborough. More than 70 rounds of navy artillery was fired during the bombings in what has been dubbed Five-Inch Friday in recognition of the damage done by Anzacs 127-millimetre gun.
After removing set targets with surgical precision, HMAS Anzac continued to provide fire support to the Royal Marines as they fought their way through the Iraqi forces on the peninsula to seize the township of Al Faw and the deep-water port of Umm Qasr.
As HMAS Anzac withdrew from the gun-line position she held for three days, the following message was received by the 40 Commando: The Al Faw Vegetation Belt has been successfully cleared of all enemy and the airport and other key military installations are now secure with no enemy resistance. Success was largely due to aggressive use of indirect fire assets and the swift and lethal response of respective units. Your bombardment and destruction of key military installations had a huge impact on the ground and shattered the enemys will to fight.
God its good to see the Aussies with us,
With HMAS ANZAC less than 4 miles from the Iraqi coast, and for the first time over 31 years, an RAN ship flies the big Battle Ensign from her mast. For three days HMAS ANZAC flew the Battle Ensign as she conducted seven missions of heavy gun fire on Iraq's southern Al Faw peninsula.(pic taken 21/03/03)
I always liked naval gun support. Very Attention getting.
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