Running low on fuel, an emergency landing on the Cargo Ship Alraigo by British Navy Sea Harrier ZA176 and Sub-Lt Ian Watson, June 1983.
In 2007, Britain’s National Archives released a number of Royal Navy files, and the second inquiry report was finally made public. Noting that Watson had completed only 75 percent of his training before he had been sent to sea, the board blamed Watson’s inexperience, and his commanders for assigning him an airplane “not fully prepared for the sortie,” a reference to radio problems. Nonetheless, Watson was reprimanded and given a desk job.
The total paid salvage claim was £570,000. The crew of the 2,300-ton Spanish container ship Alraigo won a salvage claim and shared £340,000, with the remaining £230,000 going to the owners of the vessel.
Sub-Lt. Ian Watson eventually acquired 2,000 hours in Sea Harriers and another 900 in F/A-18s before resigning his commission in 1996. Today, he says that media attention embarrassed Royal Navy brass and caused the punishment, but refuses to point fingers. “It was me,” he says. “I was there and that’s where it should stop.”