BEIRA PATROL

BEIRA PATROL

Upholding the trade embargo imposed against Southern Rhodesia after it declared independence was a largely pointless task for the British armed forces involved — but enjoyable nevertheless, not least for the RAF Shackleton crews that helped support the Royal Navy’s efforts

WORDS: STEVE BOND

Bomb bay doors open, an RAF Shackleton MR2 is about to make a mail drop to a Royal Navy vessel engaged in the Beira Patrol during July 1970.
JOHN LANE

In 1965 Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, made a unilateral declaration of independence. The UK’s response was to sponsor a United Nations resolution calling for a trade embargo, specifically in order to stop oil imports to Rhodesia through the Mozambique port of Beira. This blockade consisted of two elements: air surveillance of the Mozambique channel to identify ships passing through, and a sea patrol to intercept suspect ships approaching Beira. Thus the ‘Beira Patrol’ was spawned.

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