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WEEK TWO, 5th-11th April 1982

HMS Hermes

on to Part 19 - Ascension Island


Summary of British Ships & Aircraft Departing

Ships Departing

Royal Navy
Alacrity, Cmdr C J S Craig (awarded DSC) RN
Antelope, Cmdr N J Tobin (DSC) RN
Broadsword, Capt W R Canning ADC (DSO) RN
Fearless, Capt E S J Larken (DSO) RN
Hermes, Capt L E Middleton (DSO) RN
Invincible, Capt J J Black (DSO) MBE RN
Yarmouth, Cmdr A Morton (DSC) RN

Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Brambleleaf, Capt M S J Farley RFA
Olmeda, Capt G P Overbury (OBE) RFA
Pearleaf, Capt J McCulloch RFA
Resource, Capt B A Seymour RFA
Sir Galahad, Capt P J G Roberts (DSO) RFA
Sir Geraint, Capt D E Lawrence (DSC) RFA
Sir Lancelot, Capt C A Purtcher-Wydenbruck (OBE) RFA
Sir Percivale, Capt A F Pitt (DSC) RFA
Stromness, Capt J B Dickinson (OBE) RFA

Merchant Ships
British Esk, Capt G Barber and Naval Party (NP) 1740
British Tay, Capt P T Morris
British Test, Capt I A Oliphant and NP 1790
Canberra, Capt D J Scott-Masson (CBE) and NP 1710, Capt C P O Burne (CBE) RN
Elk, Capt J P Morton (CBE) and NP 1720, Cmdr A S Ritchie (OBE) RN
Irishman, Capt W Allen and NP 1770
Salvageman, Capt A J Stockwell and NP 1760

Aircraft Movements

Naval Air Squadrons Embarked
No.800 - 12 Sea Harriers, Hermes
No.801 - 8 Sea Harriers, Invincible
No.820 - 11 Sea King HAS.5's, InvincibleNo.826 - 9 Sea King HAS.5's, Hermes
No.846 - 9 Sea King HC.4's on Hermes and 3 on Fearless

No.824 A Flt - 2 Sea King HAS.2A's, Olmeda
No.845 A Flt - 2 Wessex HU.5's, Resource
No.845 B Flt - 2 Wessex HU.5's, Fort Austin from Ascension
No.845 D Flt, 2 Wessex HU.5's, based at Ascension

Aircraft Departing

Royal Air Force
Nimrod MR.1's of 42(TB) Sqdn RAF, Wing Cmdr D L Baugh (OBE) RAF

3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron
9 Gazelles (3 each) on Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint and Sir Percivale
6 Scouts (3 each) on Fearless and Sir Lancelot



Task Force Departures from Monday 5th April - Through an incredible amount of effort, a Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) and most of 3 Commando Brigade (3 Cdo Bde) were on their way to Ascension by week's end, with the carriers and some of their escort and supply ships being first to leave. "Hermes" and "Invincible" (commanded by Capt Black, pictured below) sailed from Portsmouth on Monday with RFA support tanker "Pearleaf" carrying heavy fuel oil for the older "Hermes". On the same day, frigates "Alacrity" and "Antelope" left Devonport along with RFA fleet tanker "Olmeda". And RFA replenishment ship "Resource" loaded with naval stores left Rosyth to join the carriers. By the end of the week, "Antelope" had crossed over to the 3 Cdo Bde ships, but after sailing from Gibraltar on Thursday, frigates "Broadsword" and "Yarmouth" took her place.

By Good Friday 9th, most of the 3 Cdo Bde units and their equipment had left on a variety of ships, although some flew to Ascension. Apart from one RM Cdo Coy on "Hermes" and part of one on "Resource", the rest sailed in ships of the Amphibious Task Group. On Tuesday 6th, assault ship "Fearless" headed out from Portsmouth as Brigade HQ with Commodore Clapp, and off Portland took on board Brigadier Thompson and three No.846 Sea Kings. Of the four LSL's sailing at this time, "Sir Percivale" and "Sir Lancelot" left from Marchwood, and "Sir Galahad" and "Sir Geraint" from Devonport. Next day, RFA stores support ship "Stromness" left Portsmouth after being converted to carry 45 Cdo RM.

The first merchantmen also sailed. Taking just two days to convert from cruise ship to trooper, "Canberra" left Southampton on Friday 9th with nearly 3,000 men including most of 40 and 42 Cdo RM and 3 Para, and accompanied by RO-RO ship "Elk" loaded with ammunition and vehicles. Over the weekend, the first tankers headed for the South Atlantic, mainly to top-up the RFA's in the tanker holding areas - "British Esk" from Portland, "British Tay" after loading at Milford Haven and Campbeltown, and "British Test" from Portsmouth. Also from Portsmouth on Saturday, tugs "Irishman" and "Salvageman" loaded with towing and salvage gear left first for Ascension. Apart from the SBS, the other units destined to take part in re-capturing South Georgia flew to Ascension during the the week - D Sqdn 22nd SAS apparently earlier on, followed by M Coy 42 Cdo from Brize Norton on Friday.

Ascension and South Atlantic - On Tuesday 6th the first RAF aircraft moved to Ascension's Wideawake airfield. Two Nimrod MR.1's of 42(TB) Sqdn arrived from St. Mawgan via the Azores, and next day started patrolling the seas around Ascension and supporting the nuclear subs on passage south. They were replaced in mid month by more modern MR.2's, but from the UK, later flew SAR for the Harriers as they staged to Ascension. Also on Tuesday, RFA "Fort Austin" reached the island and three days later continued on with D Sqdn SAS, two newly-embarked No.845 Wessex as well as three Sea Skua-equipped Lynx for ships of the "Advanced Group". It was from these that the South Georgia Task Group was detached. After Admiral Woodward had transferred his flag to "Glamorgan", and under the command of Captain Young in "Antrim" they went ahead and reached Ascension on Saturday, but neither they, nor the rest of the "Advanced Group" which got in next day spent much time there. Earlier in the week, RFA support tanker "Brambleleaf", after leaving her Persian Gulf Patrol headed via the Cape of Good Hope to refuel the South Georgia ships.

  Captain J J Black MBE RN,
commanding officer, HMS Invincible

Assault ship HMS Fearless (both Courtesy - MOD, Navy)


Disposition of British Ships, Aircraft & Land Forces, including those Departing


UK Departures
Tankers British Tay, British Test, British Esk
Tugs Irishman, Salvageman

3 Commando Brigade Transport
Assault ship Fearless
Transports Canberra, Elk
LSL's Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale
RFA Stromness
FR Antelope

RFA's at Sea
Appleleaf, Pearleaf

Carrier Battle Group
CV Hermes, Invincible
Fr Alacrity
RFA Olmeda, Resource
joined by: Fr Broadsword, Yarmouth


Other Ships nearing or in South Atlantic
LSL Sir Tristram
SSN's Conqueror, Splendid, Spartan
RFA Fort Austin
RFA Brambleleaf

Ships and Aircraft in Ascension Area
RAF Aircraft
Nimrod MR.1's of 42(TB)
Hercules, VC.10's
Advanced Group
DD Glamorgan, Coventry, Glasgow, Sheffield, Fr Arrow, Brilliant
South Georgia Task Group
DD Antrim, Fr Plymouth, RFA Tidespring
M Coy 42 Cdo, SBS, D Sqn SAS

Departing Falkland's Area
Ice Patrol Vessel Endurance


on to Part 19 - Ascension Island
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revised 31/5/13