A SNIPPET

Well, the Royal Navy certainly helped to say goodbye to Colonel Gaddafi of Libya in the latter part of 2011, what with our submarines firing tomahawk missiles into his bunkers, air defence units and ammunition dumps, our ships harassing his naval units and blockading his seaports thereby starving the despot of necessary incoming goods not to mention oil exports, and HMS Ocean to seaward carrying many rotary wing combat assets.  But, did you know, that way before this event, the same Colonel Gaddafi said goodbye to the navy, and probably under his breath, and those of his hosts, said good riddance also?

Yes, it all happened at the end of March 1979. The venue? HMS St Angelo.  The occasion? Flag Officer Malta striking his flag. The time? Midnight on the 31st.

The C-in-C Mediterranean had long gone by this time [1967] and the Flag Officer of the Island [though not Sea, although he was also the NATO Commander of the South East Mediterranean] was Rear Admiral Cecil CB; the next day [the 1st April] he left Malta in the destroyer HMS London in very choppy waters but to a good send-off from the Maltese crowd. A few weeks later in June, the was Knighted [KBE] and a few months after that in September he retired from the navy.

The occasion warranted the presence of the Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff [and many other Maltese dignitaries] and Mintoff decided to invite his buddy from across the water, namely Colonel Gaddafi, to the party. Mintoff had made it clear that he intended to invited Gaddafi to use Malta for the Libyan navy, but his navy was too small to be taken seriously and NATO kept a watchful eye over this romantic Sea to check and counter check the expansions of the Russian 'Bear'.