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WEEK THREE, Task Force Movements & Operations 12th-18th April 1982

Fleet Air Arm Wessex

on to 21. CVBG & Advanced Group join up


Summary of British Ships & Aircraft Departing

Ships Departing

Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Blue Rover, Capt D A Reynolds RFA

Merchant Ships
British Tamar, Capt D O W Jones and NP 1730
British Trent, Capt P R Waller
Stena Seaspread, Capt M Williams and NP 1810, Capt P Badcock (awarded CBE) RN
Yorkshireman, Capt P Rimmer and NP 1780

Aircraft Departing

Royal Air Force
Victors of 55 & 57 Sqdns RAF, shortly Wing Cmdr A W Bowman MBE RAF
Nimrod MR.2's of 120, 201 & 206 Sqdns RAF, Wing Cmdr D Emmerson (AFC) RAF

Naval Air Squadron Embarked at Ascension
No.845 C Flt - 2 Wessex HU.5's, Tidespring

Task Force Departures from Monday 12th April - The few ships leaving all headed for Ascension. Tug "Yorkshireman" sailed from Portsmouth on Tuesday, followed on Friday by RFA small fleet tanker "Blue Rover" and off-shore support vessel "Stena Seaspread" with a heavy machine shop in her role as repair ship. More chartered tankers also sailed - "British Tamar" from Milford Haven and "British Trent" after loading at Fawley, Isle of Grain and Gosport.

Ascension - With M Coy 42 Cdo and two No.845 Wessex now on board "Tidespring", the South Georgia ships were on their way by Monday. Two days later the "Advanced Group" followed them south with the exception of "Glamorgan" which returned north to transfer Admiral Woodward to "Hermes" as Commander, Carrier Battle Group. Reaching Ascension on Friday, the carriers continued working up their air wings as the CVBG helicopters and especially the No.846 Sea Kings took part in a massive vertrep. Next day, they were followed in by RFA "Resource", and ahead of the other amphibious ships by "Fearless" to allow Brigadier Thompson and Commodore Clapp to join Woodward on "Hermes" for a council of war chaired by Admiral Fieldhouse (pictured below) who had flown in from Northwood with the other commanders. The basic plan was (1) to blockade the Falklands with the nuclear submarines, (2) re-capture South Georgia, (3) establish air and sea control with the Advanced and Carrier Battle Groups, (4) carry out a landing from the Amphibious Group ships, and then (5) retake the islands.

On their way south, Thompson, Clapp and their staffs, including Major S E Southby-Tailyour (awarded OBE) RM who as a previous commander of NP 8901 and yachtsman had surveyed much of the Falklands coast, had been planning how and where to land. With so little intelligence on Argentine forces and positions, a major task was to put ashore SBS and G Sqdn SAS teams to gather this information. On Sunday 18th, the Carrier Battle Group pressed on, leaving "Fearless" and other arriving ships of the Amphibious Group including LSL "Sir Tristram" to stay for up to three weeks preparing for the coming landings. To assist them, "Hermes" left behind four of her nine No.846 Sea Kings. Other arrivals over the next two days were nine Victor tankers of 55 and 57 Sqdns whose first job was to fly reconnaissance for the South Georgia Task Group.

South Atlantic and Falklands - Back on Monday 12th, "Endurance" met "Fort Austin" to embark D Sqdn SAS and replenish, and two days later joined up with the South Georgia ships. Next day, and only two days after arriving at Ascension, the first Nimrod MR.2 of the Kinloss Wing flew on to drop secret orders to "Antrim". Meanwhile "Fort Austin" headed back to Ascension transfering her Lynx to ships of the "Advanced Group", whilst way off to the south west, nuclear submarine "Spartan" had been on patrol off Port Stanley since Monday.

Argentine warships now went to sea as TF 79 to prepare for battle. Carrier "25 de Mayo" exercised her air group with land-based aircraft, further south three frigates sortied, and submarines "Salta" and "San Luis" probably started patrols to the north of the Falklands around this time, although reportedly "Salta" returned to port with mechanical problems. Over the next two weeks the Exocet-carrying, Super Etendards practiced attacks on their own type 42 destroyers.

Small Fleet Tanker RFA Blue Rover
(Courtesy - MOD, Navy)
  Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse RN, Task force Commander
(Courtesy - MOD, Navy)

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


UK Departures
RFA Blue Rover, Tankers British Tamar, British Trent
Tug Yorkshireman, Repair ship Stena Seaspread

3 Commando Brigade Transport
Transports Canberra, Elk
LSL's Sir Percivale, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Tristram
RFA Pearleaf, Stromness, Fr Antelope

3 Commando Brigade to Ascension
By air - X and Y Coy, 45 Cdo RM, also M Coy 42 Cdo, SBS, SAS
With Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) - A Coy 40 Cdo on Hermes, part of Z Coy 45 Cdo on Resource
Rest of Brigade scattered around Amphibious Task Group ships:
- Brigade HQ on Fearless,
- B & C Coy 40 Cdo, K & L Coy 42 Cdo and 3 Para on Canberra,
- 45 Cdo RM (part) on RFA Stromness,
- Brigade helicopters on Fearless and four LSL's, light tanks on Elk.
- (total strength approximately 5,500)
2 Para to follow on Norland, with equipment and AAC helicopters on Europic Ferry.

Ships and Aircraft in Ascension Area
RAF Aircraft
Nimrod MR.2's of 120, 201 and 206 Sqdns,
Victors of 55 and 57 Sqdns,
Hercules, VC.10's
Ship Arriving
Assault ship Fearless

Support Tanker in South Atlantic
RFA Appleleaf

Carrier Battle Group
CV Hermes, Invincible
DD Glamorgan, Fr Alacrity, Broadsword, Yarmouth
RFA Olmeda, Resource



Advanced Group
DD Coventry, Glasgow, Sheffield, Fr Arrow, Brilliant

South Georgia Task Group
DD Antrim, Fr Plymouth, RFA Tidespring
M Coy 42 Cdo, SBS, D Sqdn SAS
joined by Ice Patrol Vessel Endurance

Returning to Ascension
RFA Fort Austin

In South Atlantic
RFA Brambleleaf

In Falklands & South Georgia Area
(MEZ in force from Monday 12th April)
SSN's Splendid, Spartan, Conqueror


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revised 31/5/13