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14 Jul 2024, 00:00:00 (PRT)

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Amazon Class Remembrance
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Posted 2015-11-08 at 07:11 by [R-DEV]Rhino

Today is Remembrance Sunday for us in the UK and a few other countries, with Veterans Day for those of you in America and in other parts of the world coming up this Wednesday on the 11th of November, where in both we commemorate the sacrifices made by those, in conflicts past and present, to preserve the freedom which we take for granted everyday. So although Project Reality is just a game, let us not forget the men and women who have fought in the past, and those on the front lines today.

However this year, with the upcoming release of Project Reality: Falklands, with the new Amazon Class, Type 21 Frigate being one of the main features in it, I would like to take a few moments to remember the role these ships and their sailors played during the 1982 Falklands War, also known as the "Guerra de las Malvinas" to the Argentinians.



The supreme test of any warship must be its ability to operate successfully in a hostile environment. Thankfully, in today's world it is rare that such a situation exists, and normally warships can be expected to fulfil their peacetime roles of deterrence, surveillance, policing the waters and aiding in disaster relief. Though the Royal Navy was involved in many minor confrontations following WW2, it had not seen any major battle in quite some time. The war in the South Atlantic in 1982 was to change that, and many classes of warship participated, from aircraft carriers to patrol vessels. Britain's maritime power was quickly and effectively mobilised and few in the Royal Navy were not involved in some way. The Type 21 Frigates of the Fourth Frigate Squadron played a full and vital part in the conflict, with seven out of the eight ships in the class being involved, making them the most common class of warship in the whole [URL=""]British Naval Task Force[/URL].

[I](Ship Crests for each Type 21 involved in the Falklands War, Click for more info)[/I][/CENTER]

It is perhaps invidious to select the actives of one group of ships that provided only a part of the whole, but this blog seeks to tell the story of the "Twenty-One Club" in the Falklands War and to remembers the ships lost, and more importantly those who didn't make it home.

[SIZE="4"][U][B]Preparations & Deployment[/B][/U][/SIZE]

The Argentine invasion of the Falklands on the 2nd of April, 1982 found the Squadron, along with the rest of the Navy, about its normal business across the globe. [I][URL=""]Amazon[/url][/I] (the only Type 21 not to be involved in the conflict), was conducting the [URL=""]Armilla Patrol[/url] in the Gulf, where she had just relived [I]Active[/I] who was on her way home via a large annual exercise off [URL=""]Gibraltar[/URL]. [I]Arrow[/I] was also involved in this exercise and was the first Type 21 to head south. Meanwhile, [I]Alacrity[/I] was engaged in syllabus training at Portland, and was prepared for war in 12 frenetic hours. Back in the Squadron's home base port, [URL=",_Plymouth"]Devonport[/URL], there was [I]Avenger[/i], sitting in the bottom of a dry dock undergoing machinate, together with [I]Antelope[/I], [I]Ardent[/I] and [I]Ambuscade[/I]. Intense activity was seen in preparation of the ships for war. On 5 April [i]Alacrity[/i] and [i]Antelope[/i] sailed from Devonport to meet up with a [URL=""]Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA)[/URL] ship and four landing ships to escort them south, whilst foru days later [i]Ambuscade[/i] sailed, shrouded in secrecy and laden with ammunition for the Gibraltar garrison and to act as the Gibraltar guardship.
[I](HMS Arrow (F173) Under Way from Gibraltar to Ascension Island -Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

[I]Arrow[/I] was one of the initial elements of the Task Force to arrive at [URL=""]Ascension Island[/URL], the main staging base for the British Forces before the final leg to the Falkland Islands, on the 11th of April followed fives days later by [I]Alacrity[/I], then [I]Antelope[/I] and [I]Ardent[/I].
[I](Naval Task Force Route)[/I][/CENTER]

Material preparations on board were extensive. Luxuries were landed, be they personal articles or superfluous fittings or furniture. Pictures, curtains and covers were removed, mirrors and formica sheets taken down or or taped so that they might not become lethal projectiles after an explosion. Distinguishing marks such as funnel markings and pennant numbers were painted out, as were the white bollards, green decks and any other signs of the "tiddly" Navy. Cherished ships' boats, resplendent in blues and reds, became grey overnight. The ships did all they could to reduce their appearance as a potential target, especially to aircraft and submarines.
[I](HMS Antelope at Ascension Island - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

On the offensive side, the untested and straight out of production helicopter-launched [URL=""]Sea Skua Anti-Ship Missiles[/URL] was added to the ships' arsenals well ahead of its clearance for use in the Fleet, and with the pilots having no training with them. [I]Ardent[/I] even took some, again untested and straight out of production, [URL=""]Sting Ray Torpedoes[/URL] south with her, having to work out tactics for their use. Training of personnel was intensified, with emphasis on warfare and damage control. First aid teams where seen doubling around the ships carrying laden stretches up and down the ladders to get fit and into practice. Action working dress became the standard rig, with anti-flash hoods and gloves being worn continuously, whilst life jackets and respirators where carried by all on board wherever they went.
[I](Wessex Helicopter Supplying Ships at Ascension Island - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

The Task Group's elements continued south from Ascension with the destroyers & frigates as close escorts. [I]Alacrity[/I] suffered defects on the primary gearbox of her starboard Tyne engine, but after spares were air-dropped and some five days spent stoning the teeth of the cogs, repairs were successfully completed (the at sea gearbox repairs continue to run till at least the 1990s if not beyond) and her high maxiumum speed of 32 knots (59km/h / 37mph), allowed her to catch up with the group.

[SIZE="4"][U][B]First Action[/B][/U][/SIZE]

[I]Alacrity[/I] was the first ship of the Task Force to have contact with the enemy when she was directed to clear the Argentinian "spyship" [I]Narwhal[/I] from the Task Group as the force neared the Falklands. After chasing to within two cables (370m), totally darkened, [I]Alacrity[/I] directed the Argentinians to clear to the north, with the help of some acrimonious VHF exchanges and some Starshell (Illumination) rounds.

[I]Alacrity[/I] & [I]Arrow[/I] then detached with [I][URL=""]Glamorgan[/URL] (an old [URL=""]County-class destroyer[/URL])[/I] ahead of the Carrier Battle Group (CBG) towards the Falklands on 1 May to carry out the first of many bombardments of shore targets. Port Stanley airfield was their target, but during their bombardment of the airfield they came under attack from three IAI Dagger aircraft and were first spotted by [I]Alacrity's[/I] Lynx Helicopter which was airborne and spotting the fall shots for the bombardment. These Daggers were piloted by (then) Capitan Dimeglio Flying C-432, First Lieutenant Aguirre Faget flying C-412 and First Lieutenant Cesar Roman flying C-407, which had managed to approached unnoticed at high speed and very low level.
[I](Dagger C-407 flown by First Lieutenant Cesar Roman)[/I][/CENTER]

The ships all opened fire with everything they had from the 4.5" Main Guns, right down to sailors with Bren Gun LMGs on the decks of the ship. As Aguirre Faget climbed to attack, a Sea Cat missile was fired but it missed and passed below him. The ships were subjected to attack from 30mm Cannon fire and 1,000lb dumb bombs. [I]Alacrity[/I] & [I]Glamorgan[/I] suffered some shock damage from near misses, and [I]Arrow's[/I] Sea Cat SAM's backup aimer was wounded while the ship sustained superficial damage from the cannon fire.
[I](30mm Cannon Damage on HMS Arrows Funnel - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

All three Dagger aircraft involved in the attack managed to survive the attack and make it back to base in the first engagement of Royal Naval Ships during the war and it was the first air strike against warships since the Suez campaign in the 1950s.

While this was going on, [I]Alacrity's[/I] Lynx Helicopter, which had spotted the incoming Daggers before, sighted an Argentine Patrol Boat near [url=""]Kidney Island[/url] and attacked it with its door-mounted L7 GPMG. Out gunned by the boat's 50cal M2HB HMG, the helicopter was beaten off, suffering several hits including partial severance of the main transmission drive shaft but made it safely back to the ship.

The next day the 2nd of May [I]Alacrity[/I] & [I]Arrow[/I] were stationed in an anti-submarine screen around the CBG (Carrier Battle Group) some 80 miles north-east of Port Stanley. The group was threatened by attack from the air, from submarines and from the the Argentine surface fleet, which was known to be at sea in force. Expectations of an attack were high, but after the risk of a dusk strike had passed, [I]Alacrity[/I] & [I]Arrow[/I] were detached for a further bombardment of Port Stanley airfield.

The war at sea escalated fast with the [URL=""]sinking of the [I]Belgrano[/I][/URL] by the [I]Conqueror[/I] Churchill-class nuclear submarine on the 3rd and the [URL=""]attack on the [I]Sheffield[/I][/URL] by AM-39 Exocet Anti-Ship Missiles fired from two Super Etendards Attack Jets the next day.
[I]Arrow[/I] was the first ship on the scene in helping the stricken [I]Sheffield[/I] after she was hit, first helping with the fire-fighting, and then later went alongside here to take off the 225 survivors. The ship sank at [URL="'00.0%22S+56%C2%B056'00.0%22W/@-52.5899463,-60.6229059,6.21z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0"]53 04 S, 56 56 W[/URL] on 10 May 1982, the first Royal Navy vessel sunk in action since World War II. Twenty of her crew (mainly on duty in the galley area and in the computer room) died as a result of the attack.
[I](Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

Reinforcements continued their way southwards. [I]Antelope[/I] escorted her group to hand them over to [I][URL=""]Antrim[/URL] (a [URL=""]County-class destroyer[/URL])[/I] before returning to Asension as escort for RFA [I]Tidespring[/I], and with the special prisoner Lt Astiz (captured in South Georgia) and 15 members of the British Antarctic survey team on-board. [I]Ardent[/I], in company with [I][URL=""]Argonaut[/URL] (a [URL=""]Leander-class frigate[/URL][/I], was racing south, and [I]Ambuscade[/I] was designated guardship for Ascension Island. A few days later [I]Avenger[/I], quickly re-floated out of her dock, together with [I]Active[/I], joined the "[URL=""][I]Bristol[/I] Group[/URL]" in UK waters, fully prepared for war.

[SIZE="4"][U][B][I]Alacrity's[/I] Dash though the Sound[/B][/U][/SIZE]

On 8 May, [I]Alacrity[/I] carried out an accurate bombardment of the Port Stanley area with spotting from her Lynx, and the following day she and [I]Arrow[/I] took up patrols off the [URL=""]Falklands Sound[/URL], to the south and north respectively. Two days later [I]Alacrity[/I] was ordered to transit the Sound, a difficult and dangerous mission in the narrow channels between rocks and reefs on a dark night, in low visibility and with the possibility of mines. As they neared the halfway point, a darkened ship was detected off [URL=",_Falkland_Islands"]Swan Island[/URL].

When the ship took violent evasive action it was engaged with the 4.5" Main Gun, firing a total of 15 rounds with 7 hits. The deck cargo of aviation fuel and ammunition, caught fire and she quickly blew up, sinking within 15min of her detection. It was the 834-ton transport [I]Isla de los Estados[/I], en route to [URL=""]Port Howard[/URL] and [URL=""]Pebble Island[/URL]. Only two of the 24 men aboard survived.
[I](ARA Isla de los Estados)[/I][/CENTER]

[I]Alacrity[/I] continued north out of the Sound without detection, and rendezvoused with [I]Arrow[/I] before turning eastwards at very high speed to reach the cover of the CBG (Carrier Battle Group) before dawn. Both ships were carrying out evasive steering and had torpedo decoys deployed, which proved fortuitous as they entered the patrol area of the Argentine submarine [I][URL=""]San Luis[/URL][/I], a German made [URL=""]Type 209 class, Diesel-Electric Attack Submarine[/URL], which was tracking them and happened to be in an ideal position to attack. Her fire control computer was unserviceable and she was able to fire only one torpedo at them, and then had to manually guide it. She fired at 500yd, but it is understood the control wire broke, and she was unable to carry out a further attack when the second torpedo did not leave its tube. It may be that the torpedo struck [I]Alacrity's[/I] Type 182 Torpedo Decoy, which was found to be badly damaged when next recovered.
[I](An Artists impression of the ARA San Luis Attack Submarine)[/I][/CENTER]

A few days later, on the 15th, [I]Alacrity[/I] repeated her transit with an uneventful passage. She landed two Gemini boat-loads of [URL=""]SBS (Special Boat Service)[/URL] troops into [URL=""]Grantham Sound[/URL], having used her Lynx as a diversion by dropping flares on the Argentinians in [URL=""]Port Howard[/URL]. This group carried out vital final reconnaissance of the San Carlos area just to the north where the main landings would take place a few days later. [I]Alacrity[/I] was forced to exit the Sound in bright moonlight less than three miles from the Argentine observation post of Fanning Head (NW Tip of East Falkland), amazingly without being sighted.

Escorting duties continued with [I]Alacrity[/I] and [I]Arrow[/I] amongst the screen of the CBG (Carrier Battle Group), and [I]Ardent[/I] with the approaching amphibious group. [I]Ambuscade[/I] & [I]Antelope[/I] were proceeding south from Ascension Island, the former with one defective Tyne engine, which required her to use a Tyne/Olympus combination with its much higher fuel consumption. in very high seas the two ships met with the tanker [I]British Esk[/I], which had the [I]Sheffield[/I] survivors on-board. [I]Antelope[/I] attempted to refuel by the astern method, but was unable to do so and continued south. [I]Ambuscade[/I] had only some 10% fuel left on-board, a critical level which required her to ballast two tanks with sea water to maintain minimum stability. She persevered with refuelling, and managed to replenish to some 80%. For the remainder of her passage south, Marine Engineer Mechanics were required to manually scrub out the fuel tanks that had been contaminated by the sea water, a perpetually unpleasant job, made worse by the rough seas.

[SIZE="4"][U][B]The start of the San Carlos Landings & HMS Ardents Defiant End[/B][/U][/SIZE]

On 20 May the amphibious group, with seven escorts including [I]Ardent[/I], detached to take up stations for the re-invasion. [I]Ardent[/I] led into the Falklands Sound at 30kt, surprisingly unseen, and took up station for bombardment in support of diversionary air raid on [URL=",_Falkland_Islands"]Darwin[/URL]. Early the next morning the SAS called for fire on [URL=""]Goose Green[/URL] airfield, where the [URL=""]Pucaras[/URL] were preparing for take-off. At a range of 22,000yd (20km) and close to the kelp beds, [I]Ardent[/I] opened fire, and over the next few hours fired over 150 rounds of HE (High Explosive) destroying at least one [URL=""]Pucara[/URL] as it taxied for take-off. She could not, however, prevent [URL=""]Pucara[/URL] operations and herself drove off two of their attacks and a further attack by Daggers with her guns and Sea Cat SAM. One hour later an A-4B Skyhawk approached low overland and managed to straddle her with bombs causing a bit of shock damage. Surviving this attack, she continued her Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) for another hour before completing her fire mission, when she was ordered into the centre of the Grantham Sound to deflect air-raids closing the amphibious group from the South. Three Argentine A-4Q Skyhawks were seen manoeuvring to attack the ship, which was turned into the wind at maximum possible speed on two Tyne Engines in order to complicate the aircrafts' bombing run. As the A-4Q Skyhawks closed, the helm was put over, but the gun could not be brought to bare and the Sea Cat, which had already fired three missiles that day on the earlier Dagger attack, refused to fire. The close-range weapons failed to impede the attack and three of the nine 500lb Mk82 dumb bombs which were aimed at her found their target, two exploding in the hanger and the third which did not explode, but ended up lodged in the after Auxiliary Machine Room. Some ten sailors were killed instantly including Lt-Cdr Sephton who was last seen firing his L2A3 Sterling SMG into the belly of one of the Skyhaws. The Lynx was destroyed and the Sea Cat launcher, blown 80ft into the air and falling back on to the flight deck.
[I](Ardent under A-4Q Skyhawk Attack & Proceeding Damage - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

Damage was severe, with fires in the hanger, and flooding in the dinging hall and Ships Control Centre from fractured fire main pipes. The 4.5" Main Gun was out of action though loss of power, and with the Sea Cat gone completely there was only close-range weapons left for defence. However, the engines remained running, giving 17.5kn, and [I]Ardent[/I] was told to close the San Carlos anchorage as the damage control parties tacked the fire and flood. Minutes later three Dagger aircraft attack with bombs, but achieved only straddles.
Twenty minutes or so elapsed before a fresh raid of three A-4Q Skyhawks attacked from the port quarter with 500lb mk82 dumb bombs, scoring at least two more hits aft, and killing or wounding all the after damage control parties who were engaged in fighting the previous fires. Yet another attack by three Mirage aircraft added to the confusion, but caused no further damage. The engines were still running, but the steering gear was out of action, and the ship was heavily ablaze aft and rushing at 18kt towards an island at the north-eastern corner of the Grantham Sound. Somehow the engines were stopped and the starboard anchor released halting the ship some 800yd from the rocks.
From what could be made out beyond the smoke and flames, the ship was holed aft and much water was being taken on (probably, as it turned out, from the fractured fire main). It appeared that the after end of the ship had been blown away. There was imminent damager the torpedo magazine would explode, and there was indications that the ship might quickly plunge stern first. In view of this and the lack of fire fighting ability, the Capitan decided to abandon ship before further raids developed. [I][URL=""]HMS Yarmouth[/URL][/I], a [URL=""]Type 12 frigate[/URL] was called alongside to take off the survivors. There were 37 wounded, 142 unhurt; 22 men died. The Capitan was he last to leave, some 50min after the attack, the fires still raging.
[I](Yarmouth rescuing Ardent Survivors - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

[I]Ardent[/I] continued to burn, with the occasional explosions, until she sank at 2am the following morning. Only the top of her mast remained showing above the water line, acting as a navigational warning of the wreck below, and as a datum which Arrow used when bombarding Goose Green later in the Campaign. Of the six Argentine Navy A-4Q Skyhawks which attacked [I]Ardent[/I], only one returned unharmed to Argentina. Interestingly, the Argentine Navy Pilots proved better weaponeers than their air force counterparts, in that their bombs were fused correctly. However this was the last strike action of the Argentine Navy A-4Q Skyhawks during the campaign. For [I]Ardent[/I], two Distinguished Services Crosses, a Gorge Medal and four mentions in Despatches were awarded as a result of the action.
[I](Ardents Final Hours - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

[SIZE="4"][U][B]The Final Hours of HMS Antelope[/B][/U][/SIZE]

[I]Antelope[/I] entered San Carlos water before dawn on the 23rd of May, escorting the first resupply convoy to the beach heads. Her Lynx attacked and hit the cargo vessel Rio Carcarana in Port King with a Sea Skua Anti-Ship Missile, which was found to be sinking on a later reconnaissance flight. On the return flight, the helicopter was attacked as four Skyhawks overflew it. Undamaged, the helicopter broadcast a warning to alert the ships in the bay. The aircraft were engaged by a barrage of fire, but one passed home to score a direct hit on the starboard side of [I]Antelope[/I] below the hanger. The 1,000lb bomb failed to explode, and the aircraft, damaged by 20mm cannon fire from the ship, hit the Main Mast (the rarest one), and exploded, falling into the sea just beyond the frigate and leaving the main mast bent over to port. Another attack followed immediately from the port quarter, and anouther bomb was taken on-board below the bridge. Again, this failed to explode: the bombs were being released too near the target and the fuses were not arming.
With one bomb in her air conditioning unit and the other in the badly damaged Petty Officers' Mess, Antelope had lost her gyros and was lit between the decks by emergency lighting. One man had been killed, and another seriously injured. The air attacks continued, and the frigate remained in her sector until they ceased, when she headed into San Carlos waters and anchored close to [URL=""][I]HMS Fearless[/I][/URL] off [URL=""]Ajax Bay[/URL].
[I](Antelope after the attack, note the two bomb entry holes on each side and the buckled main mast - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

Two Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal Experts came on-board to tackle the bombs. Assisted by the ship's Mechanical Engineering Officer and a Mechanician, the team set about their work whilst the ship's company, bar those manning communications and the weapons, were moved to the upper deck. The bomb in the air conditioning unit proved difficult and a small defusing charge was used. As the four men returned to examine the results, the 1,000 pounder exploded, killing one RE and maiming the other. Amazingly, the other two were only slightly injured. Fire fighting teams attached the resultant fires, but the fire main had been damaged and soon the the ship was ablaze on three decks across its width. The proximity of the magazines made it imperative to abandon ship, an operation which was carried out by landing craft from [I]Fearless[/I]. Ten minutes later the Sea Cat and Torpedo Magazines blew up. The fires continued though the night, and soon after dawn another massive explosion broke [I]Antelope's[/I] back and she sank midships, with the bow and stern pointing defiantly skywards.
[I](The Final Moments of HMS Antelope - Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

[SIZE="4"][U][B]Exocet Attack[/B][/U][/SIZE]

For the next couple of days the intensity of the air attacks was maintained, whilst the amphibious operations continued largely unhindered. The escorts, [I]Arrow[/I] amongst them, and the aircraft from the carriers took the pressure, whilst the CBG (Carrier Battle Group) and [URL=""]STUFT (Ship Taken Up From Trade)[/URL] supported the operations with [I]Alacrity[/I] & [I]Ambuscade[/I] amongst the escorts. The latter escorted ships out of San Carlos on 24 May, but it was the following day that, whilst screening the carriers, Leading Seaman Mark Pierce on an Eletronic Warfare (EW) station aboard [I]Ambuscade[/I] detected the Agave radar signal of an Argentine [URL=""]Super Etendard[/URL], the [URL=""]AM-39 Exocet Anti-Ship Missile[/URL] Launching Aircraft. Two of these aircraft had approached the force from the north-west. Climbing when 50 miles from the carrier [I][URL=""]HMS Hermes[/URL][/I], they transmitted their radars to search for a target. The alarm was raised, the aircraft were traced on radar, and two Exocet missiles were seen to be launched some 22 miles from [I]Ambuscade[/I], the aircraft turning away and escaping. All the standard reactions were taken, with the gun and 3" Corvus Chaff being fired and the ship manoeuvring to present the smallest possible target. The Exocets, now also being traced visually by [I]Ambuscade[/I], closed on her on a stead bearing but then appeared to be seduced by her chaff. They flew though the chaff, and then at least one went on to hit the [I][URL=""]Atlantic Conveyor[/URL][/I], a large container ship leaded with vital stores and aircraft. Extensive damage was caused, and it was not long before the crew abandoned ship. [I]Alacrity[/I] & [I]Ambuscade[/I] assisted and searched close to the ship for survivors. [I]Alacrity[/I] came close alongside and made one attempt to lay on to the [I]Atlantic Conveyor[/I], but was forced to hold clear as munitions were by then exploding in the white-hot holds aft. A clutch of life-rafts were towed clear of the Stricken ship, and 74 shaken and exhausted sailors and three bodies were taken up by [I]Alacrity[/I].
[I](Click to Enlarge)[/I][/CENTER]

[SIZE="4"][U][B]Naval Gunfire Support[/B][/U][/SIZE]

The pattern of the war was starting to alter. The landing of the troops had been achieved most successfully despite concentrated opposition from Argentinian aircraft. The escorts had taken the brunt of the attacks, and the cover provided by the Sea Harriers together with the valiant defence by the escorts over a number of days defeated the air offensive. The losses while heavy, were a "strategically acceptable price".

The CBG (Carrier Battle Group) had to remain fully alert and ready to repulse attacks from above and below the surface. Air cover and strikes continued to further the battle ashore. The destroyers and frigates found themselves falling into a more routine life: escorting the CBG and taking [URL=""]STUFT (Ship Taken Up From Trade)[/URL], [URL=""]RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary)[/URL] ships and merchantmen in and out of the Amphibious Operations Area (AOA), and carrying out shore bombardments. The inshore activities almost invariably took place under cover of darkness.

26 May saw [I]Arrow[/I] escorting ships out of the AOA (Amphibious Operations Area) to hand them over to [I]Ambuscade[/I] to take out to the CBG. This was the day that the Bristol Group, with [I]Avenger[/I] & [I]Active[/I] amongst it, arrived to boost greatly the RN Force. Whilst [I]Ambuscade[/I] & [I]Active[/I] went about more escorting in and out of San Carlos, the next day [I]Avenger[/I] & [I]Alacrity[/I] set off with [I]Glamorgan[/I] to bombard Poprt Stanley, firing 209 rounds of ammunition. [I]Arrow[/I], meanwhile, was off Darwin supporting the 2 Para's attack with 135 rounds of HE and 22 Starshell (Illumination) rounds in the [URL=""]Battle for Goose Green[/URL].
It was during this evening that Avenger was over-flown by a large missile, fired from ashore near Port Stanley, which passed over her flight deck at a height of 5ft / 1.5m, giving at least her flight deck team a surprise. It now seems certain that this was the first firing of a shore-based MM-38 Exocet Missile. Happily fired with the incorrect weapon settings, which caused the missile to narrowly miss its target.

Whilst [I]Glamorgan[/I] & [I]Ambuscade[/I] put 190 rounds into Port Stanley area on 29 May, [I]Avenger[/I] was attempting to land Special Forces in East Falklands. Thwarted by bad weather, she resorted to shelling targets. [I]Arrow[/I] went down the Falklands Sound to put 100 rounds into Fox Bay. These Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) engagements were, as so often happened, opposed with inaccurate fire with 105mm guns from ashore.

The next day, back with the CBG, another air attack took place, two Super Etendards with their last remaining AM-39 Exocet and four Skyhawks. Warned by [I]Ambuscade, Avenger & [URL=""]Exeter[/URL][/I], detected the aircraft radars, and a heated AA action took place with Sea Dart and Gun fire. Avenger claimed to shoot down the Exocet which was heading for her. Although this claim was subsequently disallowed, she did decoy one Exocet with chaff, and was the target for a number of bombs which were near misses. Between them, Exocet and Avenger destroyed two Skyhawks in the action. That night Avenger successfully inserted Special Forces into the islands using Ambuscade's Lynx and then went on to shell enemy observation posts.

So the operations continued. Shelling by night, 100 rounds was the norm, because of the impending shortage of 4.5" Mk. 8 ammunition, though [I]Avenger[/I] fired a staggering 293 rounds on the night of 1 June and returned to the CBG at dawn to replish fuel and ammunition. The latter was done either alongside an ammunition ship ('FORT' class RFA) with jackstays rigged both forward and aft; or by helicopter under-slung loads. The replenishment could take hours and was exhausting work for the whole ship's company, who had to lumber the heavy ammunition, shell by shell, though the ship to the magazine entrance. Frequently the replenishment would be broken off as the force went to action stations in anticipation of an air strike. The weather was variable. Storms generated awesome seas, whilst on other occasions there was flat calm and thick fog. Either way, the operations continued unabated.

[I]Arrow[/I] had been increasingly suffering from cracks in her superstructure, caused by the rough seas, the different expansion properties of steel and aluminium (since the ships were built out of both. but mainly aluminium), and by the the time spent grinding alongside [I]Sheffield[/I] during her rescue attempts. On 31 May she went out to a safe haven further east of the Islands, where she had steel reinforcing plates fitted on both sides of her upper decks to restore her longitudinal strength. Later, after the fighting had ceased, [I]Ambuscade[/I] received the same treatment before heading home and eventually all the surviving ships had proper reinforcing beams fitted in later dry-dock refits.

On 3 June, divers reclaimed a 20mm Oerlikon AAA Cannon and mounting from the wreck of [I]Antelope[/I], and this was immediately fitted to [I]Avenger[/I] to augment her armament, giving her a total of three of these guns. Pained across the gun's shield were the words "Antelope's Avenger".

Night after night the Fourth Frigate Squadron continued to bombard the enemy ashore in support of the ground advance.

On 7 June [I]Alacrity[/I] left the Falklands to return home, the first ship to to so. Her 4.5" Mk. 8 Naval Gun had exceeded its life: "[I]Propose to go on until it drops off[/I]" had been the Captain's signal, but this was not allowed. Six days later, [I]Arrow[/I] also detached. She had fired 902 rounds and was suffering from structural damage that required substantial repair.

That night four frigates entered [URL=""]Berkeley Sound[/URL], inside an Argentinian minefield, to assist in a barrage from shore artillery and mortars which was to precede an infantry attack. [I]Ambuscade[/I] (firing 228 rounds) and [I]Yarmouth[/I] supported 2 Para, whilst [I]Avenger[/I] (156 rounds, taking her total over 1,000) and [I]Active[/I] supported the Scots Guards. On her way into the sound that night, Avenger lost a propeller blade though metal fatigue: her speed was consequently reduced to 16kt. on one shaft.
Article Reads: 2 Para Salute to Ambuscade. As a reminder of Army-Navy co-operation during the Falklands War, officers of the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment presented HMS Ambuscade with a captured Argentine FM FAL Rifle during a visit to the ship at Plymouth. The Frigate expended more than 250 4.5" rounds to provide effective backing to 2 Para as they advanced along Wireless Ridge towards Port Stanley. In turn for the gift, which was mounted for display, the battalion received a framed photograph of the ship for its senior NCOs' Mess at Aldershot. It was handed over by CPO(OPS)(M) Sam Ports, chief of the gun during the action.

[SIZE="4"][U][B]Mopping-up Operations[/B][/U][/SIZE]

That assault was to be the last. White flags were to be seen the following day, and the Argentinians on the islands surrendered. Whist General Moore flew to Port Stanley, to accept surrender, [I]Avenger[/I] proceeded to [URL=""]Fox Bay[/URL], where 900 Argentinians surrendered to the ship. [I]Avenger's[/I] ship's company then set about the cleaning up operations, processing prisoners of war and giving technical support. The CBG remained vigilant at sea, with her screen of escorts still in place and the Combat Air Patrol (CAP) flying over the islands as the Argentinian mainland had still not officially surrendered.

Whilst [I]Avenger[/I] was having a new propeller blade fitted in San Carlos waters, her ships company and others erected a memorial to [I]Ardent[/I] and [I]Antelope[/I], on a hill overlooking their watery graves. A bugle from [I]Active[/I] sounded the Last Post, and a guard from [I]Avenger[/I] fired a rifle salute. The memorial remains proudly standing, and is given the honour of being piped by warships passing it.
[I](Plaque Reads: "To the Memory of the Brave Men of HMS Ardent & HMS Antelope - June 1982" - Click to Enlarge)[/I]

[SIZE="8"][FONT="Times New Roman"][I]Lest We Forget[/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/CENTER]
Updated 2016-06-19 at 08:29 by [R-DEV]Rhino
Views: 47344 | Comments: 17

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Total Comments: 17
  1. Old Comment
    Thanks for making this, a fitting tribute. RIP
    Posted 2015-11-08 at 13:47 by Chappers Chappers is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Whilst serving I'd been to Falklands on a number occasions, visiting a lot of the memorials.
    Posted 2015-11-08 at 16:07 by sapper1893 sapper1893 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    And in which academic journal will this article be published?
    Posted 2015-11-09 at 03:07 by fatalsushi83 fatalsushi83 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    This was a very interesting read! Thanks for posting
    Posted 2015-11-09 at 11:51 by mries mries is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Nice read mate, good on you.
    Posted 2015-11-09 at 14:47 by Tit4Tat Tit4Tat is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Excellent reading, certainly a piece of history to be remembered, thanks Rhino!
    Posted 2015-11-09 at 18:47 by blayas blayas is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Rhino's Avatar
    Cheers guys, wasn't sure how many people would be interested in this so its good to know a few of you are

    Originally Posted by fatalsushi83 View Comment
    And in which academic journal will this article be published?
    lolz. TBH not much of this is new information and most of this was lifted directly out of the book "Modern Combat Ships 5 Type 21" by Capt John Lippiett, RN, (1990, ISBN 0 7110 1903 7), although I did add quite a bit more information I've been able to gather up from other sources too like the names of the Dagger pilots and a bit of information from their side in the first attack etc from an Interview of them, and many others but ye, I can't take much of the credit, other than putting this post all together from all the sources I have
    Posted 2015-11-10 at 00:14 by Rhino Rhino is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Great read! Did you transcribe it, or literally copy and paste some of it?

    Regardless, it was a great read, a great remembrance, and the perfect way to celebrate the people and places that give our hobby so much meaning.

    Posted 2015-11-10 at 06:11 by CR8Z CR8Z is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Rhino's Avatar
    Thanks and there is no digital copy of the book that I'm aware of, I only have a hard back I brought after I started this project that I transcribed from, as well as rewording a lot of it and putting in bits from my other sources
    Posted 2015-11-10 at 06:53 by Rhino Rhino is offline
  10. Old Comment
    tldr: there once was a war, the end.
    Posted 2015-11-10 at 15:20 by Psyko Psyko is offline

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