"Commander Ian Inskip, who has died aged 72, saved his ship after an Exocet attack during the Falklands War.
Inskip was on the bridge of Glamorgan on the night of June 11/12 1982 as 45 Commando advanced on Two Sisters ridge. Soon after midnight, Inskip, who was the navigator and officer of the watch, nudged the destroyer closer to the coast. There was little wind and half a moon that night as Glamorgan, in response to calls from ashore, rained 145 shells, nearly four tons of high explosive, on enemy positions.
Towards dawn the Royal Marines signalled “VMT [very many thanks] and good shooting”, and, as Inskip worked out a course for Glamorgan to take up her daytime role of air defence of the task force, there was a sudden lull in the fighting ashore.
Everyone’s eyes were caught by the very bright efflux coming from Eliza Cove: watchers ashore followed the flare seawards until there was an equally dazzling flash in the distance followed by an ominous red glow.
At 0636, Inskip, looking at the radar screen, realised that Glamorgan was under attack by an Exocet missile, and ordered full starboard rudder.
“I concentrated very hard on the turn,” he recalled, “since I would need to reverse the wheel at precisely the right moment to steady on 190 degrees if we were to successfully bounce the missile off the ship’s side; I had less than 5 degrees leeway for error… Too soon and I would have to ease the rudder, thereby lengthening the time to turn, and time was not on our side. Too late, and I risked the missile and its debris running the length of the Seaslug [missile] magazine…
"On the bridge we heard a seemingly unremarkable thud, followed almost immediately by a 'whooomph’ as the fuelled helicopter in the hangar erupted into flame… Night turned into day as 100 ft flames towered above masthead height.”
The flash of the explosion was seen as far away as Darwin and Goose Green, and after a few minutes’ lull, the fighting ashore resumed.
Inskip’s action in turning the ship undoubtedly saved her from worse damage; nevertheless, 14 men were killed. The fight to save Glamorgan, however, had just begun, and Inskip played a major part in fighting the fire which followed.
His mention in despatches recorded that Inskip’s personal stamina and leadership had inspired others, in the face of extreme danger from exploding ammunition, to act with the determination and resolve which undoubtedly prevented the fire from spreading.
Throughout the three months of the Falklands War, Inskip displayed fortitude, resolve and determination, which, combined with his professionalism and cheerful influence, made a marked contribution to the ship’s readiness for and achievements in action. He was promoted to commander in 1983.
Ian Inskip was born at Thorpe Bay, Essex, on November 2 1943 and educated at Alleyn Court prep and Felsted School. He learnt to sail in a 12ft Gunter-rigged dinghy on the Thames, explaining to his anxious mother that his irregular absences and returns for meals at unusual times were dependent on the tides and visits to the Kent coast.
In 1962 he entered the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, where he became coxswain as the captain of the college’s fast motorboat, and learnt a love of precise seamanship which endured throughout his naval career and extended to family canal boat holidays."