Thursday 15 July 2010

The Storm – New Year 1991/92 Part 4 - Some of the Repercussions

In the immediate aftermath, whilst the executives planned, the workers got on with clearing up the Mess. Unsafe structures had to be dismantled in sometimes dangerous conditions – not helped by the winds, cold and short periods of daylight at that time of the year. Debris, radome panels in particular, had been scattered over large areas around the Top Site and on Vallafield. Initially the Unit had to work with its own resources, much of Shetland was without power for a long time, the inter-island ferries were disrupted and the gales continued for 3 more days. Some of the problems with the “clear-up” can be seen in the following pictures. (Left click on photos to enlarge).

With no search radar the station was effectively useless. After a few days a number of operators were detached to Sumburgh Airport where the Air Traffic Radar was used to provide some reporting capability to RAF Buchan. A cutting from the Shetland Times (2 Jun 92) is reproduced below.

The HF200 was made serviceable quite quickly but it wasn’t of much relevance until there was a search radar on site. It was not until Aug 92 that one side of the Type 96 (L or D Band antenna) was brought back into operation and completed calibration trials in Nov 92. In view of the expected imminent installation of the Type 93 3D radar it was decided not to replace the radomes on the HF200 & Type 96.

A higher specification radome was ordered for the Type 93 and this structure was eventually completed by Sep 92. The Type 93 did not actually arrive until the autumn of 93. The TACAN antenna was not replaced on Vallafield but a new one was erected at the Top Site (on a tower and without a radome).

All in all the night of 31 Dec 91/1 Jan 92 was a rather frightening experience, the wind speeds increased very dramatically in a short space of time – I know I went out first-footing in Lerwick when the weather was reasonable - I wish I'd stayed at home!

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