Leading Writer Shirley North returned to his ship after his Christmas leave and prepared for the Spring Cruise that was to start the following week. On the return of the crew of HMS Vanguard from their leave they found an unexpected change in command. Owing to an unfortunate indisposition, Captain John Shirley Lichfield had to be placed on the sick list ashore and on 19th January, 1953, Captain Robert A. Ewing, D.S.O., R.N. joined the ship and assumed command.
Captain Ewing addressed the crew and said that we were due our annual docking and that there were only three dry-docks which could accommodate a ship the size of HMS Vanguard - the naval dockyard in Plymouth was one but that was not in our Division and the only other in the United Kingdom was at Southampton and as that was a civilian yard we could not use its dry-dock. He said that the only one left was in Gibraltar and that was where we would go. The crew fully agreed.
Gate near the Dockyard
We sailed for Gibraltar on 20th January 1953, the day after Captain Ewing joined, for the ship's annual docking and self refit. After an uneventful passage across the Bay of Biscay we arrived in Gibraltar on 24th January. It was a great day for Gibraltar when our great ship went into dry-dock - we even achieved fame by appearing in television newsreel shots. The Rock Scorpions were more than thrilled by their achievement - and rightly so - as they dealt with us very well for a small yard not used to dealing with such monsters.