HMS Onyx

Having a brew with an American military veteran the other day, he asked me “what was your most memorable modes of transport during your military career?”

What a great question!

I had to let him get the brews in (again) while I took a couple of minutes to think about it.

23 years of military service, training and operations…modes of transport…mmmmm?

So when he returned with the coffees I was armed with the answer.

He asked for a top 5, so here they are with a little explanation:

1 The Oberon Class submarine, especially HMS Onyx (pictured).

As a member of an SAS Boat Troop, we worked with the O Class submarines on exercise and training, and on operations in the Falklands War. The ability to be covert extremely close to enemy territory was uncanny for a submarine that had been in service for some time by that stage. The crew of some 40 odd were characters to say the least. I suppose given what they do for a living, there is no room for shrinking violets. HMS Onyx broke all sorts of records during the Falklands Campaign…hats off to my number 1 mode of military transport and it’s terrific crew…most certainly well more than just transport…I was devastated when I heard that she was eventually broken up, her crew must have been too.

2 The SAS Pink Panther Land Rover.

My first mode of transport and fighting platform when I first joined B Sqn, 22 SAS. I first set eyes on the pinky way back in 1972 during the Dhofar campaign in Oman. She lasted from 1968 until the early 80s before being replaced by a different model of Land Rover wearing different colours.

3 The 2 man Klepper canoe,

Born out of WW2, this amazing canoe of a wooden skeleton and canvas and rubber body can be carried split down by it’s 2 man crew along with their weapons and full kit. I’ve carried it over mountains and through forests. Then once at the shore line, put it together and paddled for miles. I’ve parachuted with it, and come off of a submarine casing out at sea. I’ve lived in it for days in a jungle theatre. Amazing to see something so simple last so long…long may you continue to support our troops. Never out of date.

4 The Scout helicopter.

For something with only one engine and a small body, this aircraft certainly punched well above it’s weight. Before the Gucci helicopters of today, the Scout would get us onto the roofs of buildings to assault, fly into tiny ground spaces in the jungle and fly onto ships that were never designed to accommodate a helicopter of any size. Another military workhorse of it’s generation.

5 My boots.

With or without the other modes of transport I always had my boots. Any problems, or the simple fact that it’s the only option, then my boots would become the only remaining mode of transport. Well fitted, well dubbined, with two pairs of socks, one thin inside a slightly thicker pair, worn at all times to stop blisters. The socks would rub against each other and not on my feet. I’ve walked and ran miles over my military career, and most of that time carrying extreme loads on my wee shoulders. Given those great boots way back when, I’m still able to continue today. Look after your boots and your boots will look after you.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit

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