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HMS Fearless was commissioned in 1965 as the first of two assault ships. She combined in one hull a tank landing ship, a troop transport and an amphibious command ship. Over nearly four decades she proved expert in all of these roles plus acting as a floating 10 Downing Street (for Prime Minister Harold Wilson's talks with Ian Smith of Southern Rhodesia), embassy, exhibition hall and co-ordinating centre of civil aid projects, for which she was awarded The Wilkinson Sword of Peace.
Throughout her life she was intimately involved in Britain's changing foreign policies. Operationally, she landed a force into South Arabia, the 'tanks' into Northern Ireland, was the central player during the Falkland's campaign, helped Britain withdraw from Africa and the Middle and Far East and ended her life playing a key role in the initial Afghanistan operations.
She acted as the Dartmouth Training Ship, was at the forefront of Britain's Cold War trials in the Arctic, served on the front-line‚ along NATO's southern flank, featured in a James Bond film and took part in some 140 operational exercises. Inevitably there were tragedies, a collision, a fire and a grounding but her record was, as this superb book shows, exceptional.
When Fearless paid off in 2002 she was, apart from HMS Victory, the oldest ship in commission. Like Victory, she can justifiably claim to be the most famous and influential ship of her era. Her story, told here in words and pictures by one who knew her intimately, will be welcomed by all those sailors, marines and soldiers who served in her, and loved her. Naval historians will also recognise this as a book that demands to be read.
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