Basia Zarzycka Minerva Memories – The Bay of Biscay


Let’s talk about the Bay of Biscay and get a few things straight! Yes, the Bay of Biscay has a terrible reputation and it is not without reason. Parts of the continental shelf extend far into the bay, resulting in fairly shallow waters in many areas and thus the rough seas for which the region is known. The Bay of Biscay is home to some of the Atlantic Ocean’s fiercest weather and large storms often occur in the bay.


Another ship finding it a bit rough.

The Bay of Biscay has been the site of many famous naval engagements over the centuries. In 1592 the Spanish defeated an English fleet during the eponymous Battle of the Bay of Biscay. The Biscay campaign of June 1795 consisted of a series of manoeuvres and two battles fought between the British Channel Fleet and the French Atlantic Fleet off the southern coast of Brittany during the second year of the French Revolutionary Wars.

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The USS Californian sank here after striking a naval mine on June 22, 1918.[4] On December 28, 1943, the Battle of the Bay of Biscay was fought between HMS Glasgow and HMS Enterprise and a group of German destroyers as part of Operation Stonewall during World War II.

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It was when the lifts were closed and the Captain suggested that we stay in our cabins that we knew we were in for a rough day. Meals were served to the sounds of plates crashing to the floor in the galley and the sight of waiters flying across the decks was a sight to behold.

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At times during the day the tannoy would sound ‘code blue – B44’ as the crew rushed to a cabin with lights flashing. The doctor must have had a busy night when the seas calmed down the next morning. Bandaged arms legs and heads on the brave few who were up, with reports of TVs falling off walls and even furniture falling over. It was a quieter final evening into the channel passage to Portsmouth.

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About Basia Zarzycka