• Mark Kahn

H.M.S. Ardent, the Falklands War


Remembering The Fallen: On this day in 1982, HMS Ardent, a Royal Navy Type 21 frigate became the second warship to be sunk in the Falklands War. She’d been deployed to provide air defence for the landings and also naval gunfire support (NGS) for the troops once they were ashore. Land forces were sent ashore on this day and fortunately all the troops were safely ashore before the Argentine Air Force could react. But react it certainly did. An air-sea battle of a ferocity not seen since the Second World War occurred on this day and Ardent was to bear the brunt of the Argentine onslaught. She was bombarding the air strip at Goose Green when she was attacked by at least three waves of Argentine aircraft. She was hit repeatedly by bombs, knocking out her air defence missile system and causing fires to break out. Communication between the ship control centre and the bridge were cut off. She also lost her steering and the fires on the stern and in the hangar were raging out of control. With the ship listing heavily, her Commanding Officer, Commander Alan West, gave the order to abandon ship. The frigate HMS Yarmouth came alongside to take off survivors who were then transferred to the liner, Canberra. Ardent continued to burn through the night and she sank the next day, with the loss of 22 men. One helicopter pilot who helped in the rescue operation commented in a television interview, ‘It’s a sight I’ll certainly never forget. The fires of hell burning on that ship.’ Today, we remember:

(Top row of the photo, left to right):

Acting Steward S Hanson

Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) 1 S N Ford

Able Seaman (Electronic Warfare) S Heyes

(Bottom row of the photo, left to right):

Lieutenant Commander J M Sephton DSC

Air Engineering Mechanician 1 A McAulay

Lieutenant B Murphy Also:

Acting Leading Marine Engineering Mechanic (Electrical) G Whitford Able Seaman (Sonar) D Armstrong Lieutenant Commander R W Banfield Able Seaman (Sonar) A R Barr Petty Officer Engineering Mechanic P Brouard Cook R J S Dunkerley Acting Leading Cook M P Foote Able Seaman (Sonar) S K Hayward Weapons Engineering Mechanic (Radio) 1 S J Lawson Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) 2 A R Leighton Acting Leading Seaman (Radar) M S Mullen Leading Physical Training Instructor G T Nelson Acting Petty Officer Weapons Engineering Mechanic (Radio) A K Palmer Cook J R Roberts Acting Leading Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) S J White Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) G S Williams

In 2014, one of the training divisions at HMS Raleigh, was named after one of the crew members who died, Acting Steward Shaun Hanson - https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2014/october/17/141010-raleigh-honour-fallen-sailor

Commander Alan West was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He is now Admiral The Lord West who was First Sea Lord from 2002 to 2006. HMS Ardent, pennant number F184, was the seventh ship of eight Type 21 frigates built for the Royal Navy. She was laid down at Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd in Glasgow in 1974, launched in 1975 and commissioned in 1977.

Her motto (ironically) was ‘Through fire and water’. O hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea. Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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