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WEEK FOUR, Task Force Movements & Operations 19th-25th April 1982

Atlantic Conveyor and Sea Harrier

on to 22. South Georgia retaken


Summary of British Ships & Aircraft Departing

Royal Navy
Ardent, Cmdr A W J West (awarded DSC) RN
Argonaut, Capt C H Layman (DSO) MVO RN
Hecla, Capt G L Hope RN
Herald, Cmdr R I C Halliday RN
Hydra, Cmdr R J Campbell RN

Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Plumleaf, Capt R W M Wallace RFA
Regent, Capt J Logan RFA
Tidepool, Capt J W Gaffrey RFA (from Curacao)

Merchant Ships
Atlantic Conveyor, Capt I H North (post DSC) and NP 1840, Capt M H G Layard (CBE) RN
Anco Charger, Capt B Hatton
British Dart, Capt J A M Taylor and NP 1800
British Wye, Capt D M Rundle (OBE)
Europic Ferry, Capt W J C Clarke (OBE) and NP 1860, Lt Cmdr C E K Roe RN
Fort Toronto, Capt R I Kinnier and NP 1750
Uganda, Capt J G Clark and NP 1830, Cmdr A B Gough RN and Surgeon Capt A J Rintoul RN

Helicopters Embarked
No.848 A Flt - 2 Wessex HU.5's, Regent
6 Wessex HU.5's of No.848 D Flt and 5 Chinooks of 18 Sqdn RAF on Atlantic Conveyor,
3 Scouts of 656 Sqdn AAC on Europic Ferry

Task Force Departures from Monday 19th April - Only now were two more frigates ready to leave for Ascension. On Monday, type 21 "Ardent" and Leander class "Argonaut" (pictured below) sailed from Devonport along with two RFA's from Portland - support tanker "Plumleaf" and replenishment ship "Regent". That same day, the first of four white painted and Red Cross-marked hospital ships departed. Liner "Uganda" cut short a children's Mediterranean cruise and arriving at Gibraltar spent the weekend having full medical facilities installed before heading south. She was followed from Gib on Tuesday by survey ship "Hecla", and from Portsmouth on Saturday by "Herald" and "Hydra" all in the role of ambulance ships. One of their main tasks would be to ferry casualties between "Uganda" in the planned Red Cross Box and Montevideo.

Monday 19th also saw the departure from Southampton of "Fort Toronto" as the only fresh water tanker with the Task Force through to the end of the war. And by the end of the week, three more tankers were on their way as fleet refuellers - "British Dart" after delayed loading at Loch Striven, "Anco Charger" from Fawley, and "British Wye" from Devonport. Finally on Sunday, another two RO-RO transports set out as part of the build-up of 3 Cdo Bde. After conversion at Southampton, ferry "Europic Ferry" left Portland with much of 2 Para's equipment and three Scouts. And joining her from Devonport was container ship "Atlantic Conveyor" in an aircraft and helicopter support role, complete with flight deck, fuelling and maintenance facilities, and carrying six Navy Wessex and five RAF Chinook helicopters.

Ascension - Now the ships of the Amphibious Group started arriving to spend their time storing and re-stowing, replenishing by helicopter, landing craft and Mexeflote, and sending their troops ashore for limited exercises and weapons training. The slower LSL Group only stayed until the end of the following week, but the others remained a week longer. Meanwhile, and typical of the enterprise shown, "Elk" had the sides of her upper deck cut away for helicopter operations and added two 40mm Bofors. Two civilian tugs also arrived to join RMAS "Typhoon", with "Irishman" staying into early May, but "Salvageman" soon headed for Tristan da Cunha and on to South Georgia. During the week, RFA "Fort Austin" got back from her rendezvous with "Endurance", re-stored and returned south to join the CVBG.

South Atlantic - On Wednesday 21st the South Georgia Group arrived off this forbidding island. Next day, on the 22nd, two helicopters were lost on South Georgia's Fortuna Glacier [first British aircraft losses - b1,b2 - see Part 22]. Still on the 21st and far to the north, one of "Hermes'" Sea Harriers intercepted an Argentine Boeing 707 of Grupo 1 approaching the Carrier Battle Group. This happened each time one of them came near over the next three days, when in response to warnings through diplomatic channels, they stayed away. On Friday 23rd in the evening, the first Task Force aircraft was lost at sea in the South Atlantic when one of "Hermes" five remaining No.846 Sea King HC.4's flying on vertrep crashed in poor weather with the loss of her crewman [third British aircraft loss - b3].

By Sunday 25th, and less than seven days from combat, the carriers rendezvoused with the Advanced Group ships. Before then in the South Georgia area, the two helicopters had been lost, detached frigate "Brilliant" had joined other ships there in the helicopter attacks on submarine "Santa Fe", and that same Sunday, the Argentine garrison on South Georgia was surrendering.

HMS Hermes post-war (Courtesy - MOD, Navy)   HMS Argonaut post-war in Portland harbour,
south England (Courtesy - MOD, Navy)

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


Other UK Departures
Transports Europic Ferry, Atlantic Conveyor
Tankers Anco Charger, British Dart, British Wye
Water tanker Fort Toronto


On Passage, North Atlantic
Ambulance ships Herald, Hydra
Hospital ship Uganda & Ambulance ship Hecla
FR Ardent, Argonaut
RFA Plumleaf, Regent
also RFA Tidepool

Ships and Aircraft in Ascension Area

RAF Aircraft
Nimrods, Victors, Hercules, VC.10's

3 Commando Brigade & Amphibious Group Ships
Assault ship Fearless
Transports Canberra, Elk
RFA Stromness,

LSL Group
LSLs Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram
RFA Pearleaf,
FR Antelope,

Other Ships at Ascension or Reaching the Area on the Way South
Tankers British Esk, British Tay
Tugs Irishman, Salvageman, RMAS Typhoon


Reaching and Departing Ascension
RFA Fort Austin


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

with SBS & G Sqdn SAS


In South Atlantic
RFA Brambleleaf

In or Approaching Falklands Area
SSN Splendid, Spartan, Conqueror


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


on to 22. South Georgia retaken
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revised 31/5/13