50 years ago: HMS Mohawk visits Cayman

This week in Cayman

In the Oct. 18, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the following story appeared:

“HMS Mohawk dropped anchor on Friday, the 6th, and the usual ceremony reserved for such occasions took place with dignity, precision and efficiency.

“Three football matches (scores (1) ship 4, Cayman nil; (2) ship 8, Cayman 4, and (3) ship nil, Cayman 3), and two cricket matches (scores (1) ship 67, all out, Cayman 101, 5 in hand, declared, and (2) ship – 5 in hand, Cayman 61 all out) were played at West Bay, despite torrential rain earlier in the week.

“The cocktail parties at Government House (Friday) and on board the ship (Monday) were both enjoyed and quite a number of the ship’s company travelled to the Blue Horizon for the dance on Friday night.

“Swimming, sailing, water skiing and tennis were available for the men and many took advantage of the opportunity to do a little shopping. Members of the public were welcomed aboard on Saturday afternoon.

“They sailed on Monday, the 9th for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.”

In a separate article, titled “A tough hot walk in Little Cayman,” a following report of the ship’s visit to Cayman’s smallest island appeared:

“Chief of Police R.S. Besant has had news from the Marine Lieutenant aboard HMS Mohawk regarding an exercise conducted on Little Cayman last week.

“The warship anchored and landing craft set the officer, 20 marines, Sgt. Vernon Ebanks and Constable Jake McLaughlin ashore at West End Point at 8 a.m. on the 10th.

“They walked in line right along the north coast, sometimes penetrating 300 yards in until they met the swamp. Six-and-a-half hours later, they arrived at East Point after an extremely tough hot walk.

“A very thorough search was made but no evidence was made of unauthorised visitations, e.g., illegal immigration or fishing within our territorial waters. In fact, they saw no person at all, either on shore or fishing, during the whole six-and-a-half hours.

“It is reported that the ironshore took heavy toll of the men’s boots, a large percentage of which later went overboard.

“The landing craft having returned to Mohawk, she steamed around the island and was waiting to pick the weary walkers up upon reaching their destination. They were taken back onto the ship at 3 p.m. At 4 p.m., Sgt. Ebanks and Cons. McLaughlin were flown by helicopter to Cayman Brac and the warship sailed immediately.”

In the paper’s “Cayman Brac Calling” column, correspondent Lilian Ritch takes up the HMS Mohawk’s continued visit, writing:

“On Tuesday last, HMS Mohawk was waved an enthusiastic farewell from the shore as she glided along the north shore. The helicopter flew low over the homes, calling our attention, and then provided an interesting sight as she pitched on deck.”

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