‘Enemy bridges in sight, Sir. Course unchanged. Definitely Takao-class.’

‘Very good. Let me know…’

‘Just a moment, sir!’

Still leaning sideways to the voice-pipe mouth, Bentley twisted his head around and up. All he could see was a pair of shoulders, a pair of binoculars held very steadily and an old white canvas hat. Then the hat bent sideways. ‘Enemy altering course towards, sir. They’re…I think…yes, they’re altering formation to line abreast.’ Wind Rode met a long swell and her foc’s’le lifted gently a further six feet. ‘I can see the bow waves now, sir. Almost level with the gunnels. I’d say about 30 knots. And I think they’ve sighted us, sir.’

‘I think you’re right, Norton,’ Bentley answered dryly. He came upright and Randall reported: ‘Radar’s in contact, sir. Range 15 miles, bearing right astern.’

Bentley spoke two words: ‘Make smoke.’

Waiting, Ferris swung to his signal-lamp and the order for the first part of the battle plan, decided on by Bentley in the event of discovery by a superior enemy force, flashed back to the escorts. Randall stepped forward to the Edge of the bridge and pressed a large brass button…