HMS Eastbourne & The Cod War!!!!


I was a young sailor aboard HMS Eastbourne, in 1958 when we were sent to protect the British trawler fleet fishing off Iceland. The Icelandic Government had increased the territorial waters from 3 to 12 miles. The British Government refused to recognize the new limits. They sent a Royal Naval frigate to protect the trawlers. Iceland had three Gun Boats and they attempted to arrest the trawlers inside the twelve mile limit. In one incident we rescued a trawler and captured the Icelandic boarding party. When we tried to return them to the gun boat ‘Thor’ she sail away. We had nine prisoners for a month. At the end of our patrol we were ordered to put the Icelanders ashore, not an easy task with nothing but a rock face coast line. In the few hours of darkness in that part of the world we sneaked in as close as we dared to Reykjavik disguised as a freighter. We allowed the prisoners to row themselves to freedom in our whaler. I’ve been told the whaler is now in the Reyikavik Maritime Museum but have never been able to confirm this. Have any readers been to this museum and happen to know if my old whaler is there???. The Royal Navy want it back!!!!
God Bless and keep reading

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
This entry was posted in HM Submarines, HMS Cockade, hms ganges, military, The Royal Navy & Me, veterans and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to HMS Eastbourne & The Cod War!!!!

  1. Great story, I never knew stuff like that occurred. I was in the Operational Force that invaded Iraq in 2003 and had a chance to meet some fine soldiers in the British Army in Basra. There was not one of them that I did not like, Thanks again for the great read!

  2. irishroverpei says:

    I think the Government didn’t want it made public at the time, we were all sworn to secrecy!!!not sure that worked very well. Britain was really in the wrong but had trouble admitting it. Look at the 200 mile limits today!! On another subject my wife plans to ride her bike down Route 66 this coming spring, wondering if you have done it and have any advice??

  3. Phil Nash says:

    My father was on the Eastbourne at the same time. I’ve seen a newspaper cutting of the incident. The played uckers to pass the time. Just recently I was given a book with Icelantic version of events. Seemingly all the comanding officers British and Icelantic were on first name terms with each other having all trained at Dartmouth at the same time.

    • irishroverpei says:

      You may be right and maybe they all knew each other by name. However it wasn’t always on friendly terms. When we tried to return the Thor’s boarding party they steamed away, and I recall a few names being used on the bridge that were certainly not first names!!!!. I don’t remember your father by name what branch was he in? I was only aboard Eastbourne ten months and don’t remember too many shipmates.

  4. irishroverpei says:

    Then I would have certainly known him, I was a Radar operator

    • Phil Nash says:

      I’ll see if I can get hold of the press cutting. I can’t remember if I gave the Icelanders book back. I still have my fathers notes books from Manadon…. The last couple of pages mention the new fangled transistor…..

  5. irishroverpei says:

    Its an interesting subject, when we finished our tour we unloaded the Icelandic prisoners in our whaler. I have attempted to trace what happened to the boat. I checked with the Icelandic Maritime Museum but they had no record, however someone told me they believed the whaler was used in a children’s playground for many years, and has since been scraped.
    I don’t want to sound like a salesman but there is a detailed account in my book “The Royal Navy & Me” (pages 63-70) and it is available as an Ebook for $1.99 at
    I hope you find the press cutting I would love to see it. I assume your father has crossed the bar?he would probably have been a few years older than me, I was only 19 when aboard Eastbourne, Wow that was 55 years ago.

  6. Barry Evans says:

    I was aboard during the operation discussed above. It was my first full commission after training as a Junior Seaman at HMS Ganges and HMS Vernon for further training as an underwater weapons specialist. It was Eastbourne’s second, I believe.

    I recall us being issued with special Arctic clothing which started with special string vests, long john’s, quilted trousers and jackets with hoods, topped off with thick leather boots which had inch thick soles. We were given dire warnings not to go on deck without our full kit or otherwise we would probably perish from exposure in 20 minutes max. Imagine our surprise and embarrassment when we first caught sight of our first Grimsby fishermen working on deck, gutting their catch dressed in ordinary trousers and naked from the waist up except for a string vests. We quickly modified our dress code to dress according to the prevailing weather. We enjoyed gifts of baskets of fresh caught cod passed across from the trawlermen who obviously appreciated our protective presence.

    I remember the incident well when we captured the crew of the Icelandic gun boat. They stayed with us for a month or so before being landed in our three in one whaler- so called because it could be rowed, motored under power of a diesel engine or being sailed. Very expensive and I guess signed off by our Captain on his slop chit.
    Barry (taff) Evans OD. For’d seamans mess deck. Right under the 4.5 inch main armament.

    • irishroverpei says:

      Great to hear from you shipmate. I think this was the first Icelandic tour, I joined the ship in April 1958 and if memory serves the Icelandic trip took place in August/September. I remember the fish, and I hated fish at the time!! I recall a trawler skipper came aboard and was taken to the wardroom where he got pissed! As he was leaving the ship he took a leak over the side while our duty officer waited for him!!!!Grand times on the high seas, seems like another lifetime now. Yours Aye Frederick Rodgers

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