photographers lens captures Anzacs high explosive
round in flight.
Inch Friday - MAP
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
conducted seven fire missions in total, with all rounds hitting
Iraqi bunkers, destroying artillery strongholds and key military
of Anzacs rounds fell on their military targets with none
harming civilian infrastructure.
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.
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.
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.