Catholic chaplain describes serving on board a ship under fire

The Royal Navy’s most recently appointed Catholic chaplain, Fr Charles Bruzon, a Gibraltarian, described serving on board a ship under fire off the coast of Libya recently.

HMS Liverpool was providing air defence cover for Nato vessels close to the port of Misrata, when it was attacked with heavy calibre weapons from the shore.

The destroyer took immediate evasive action and fired back with its main gun before escorting several vessels to safety. No one was hurt during the incident.

In an email to the Gibraltar Chronicle Fr Bruzon described the action.

He said: “We have been in action stations several times and during one such occasion were fired upon by pro-Gaddafi forces using shore based heavy artillery.

“The ship responded with a salvo from our 4.5 inch gun, quickly bringing the incident to an end.

“At all times the ship’s company were calm and going about their business in a very professional manner, whilst as chaplain I undertook a roving role visiting personnel in all compartments until the alert state was reduced.”

Fr Bruzon, who became a Navy chaplain last year, has pastoral responsibility for four ships, including HMS Liverpool.

He splits his time between them and had only recently completed a deployment on HMS Iron Duke in the Arabian Gulf when the incident on HMS Liverpool took place.

“Having been through this scenario in training it was an eye-opener to be in it for real but at all times we were extremely confident in our ability to defend ourselves,” he said.
“I felt my ministry was very much brought to the fore at this time.”

The encounter between HMS Liverpool and the Libyan forces was widely reported last month.

The ship’s captain, Cdr Colin Williams, told BBC News that his crew had been in danger but had worked bravely and calmly under pressure.

He said: “This is actually the second time it’s happened while we’ve been providing cover for other units working closer into the coastline.

“We had a number of rounds that were coming in off the coast directly towards us, which we managed to evade and extract ourselves from.

“It’s not something the ship hasn’t seen before. We are prepared and trained in all respects to deal with it.”