Falklands 30 – HMS Antelope

Antelope's magazines exploding on 24 May 1982

If you had to pick five iconic images that came out of the 1982 Falklands War, the sinking of HMS Antelope in San Carlos Water.

HMS Antelope was a Type 21 ‘A’ Class Frigate. Ordered to fill a gap for a cheap, expendable patrol frigate, the Type 21′s were designed jointly by Yarrow and Vosper Thorneycroft, and hence they had ‘yacht’ like lines. Commissioned in 1975, she was the only ship in her class not to be fitted with Exocet missile launchers. Their performance and accomodation was reportedly good compared to other contemporary British warships.

Antelope only arrived in the Falklands theatre on 21 May 1982. After the loss of her sister ship HMS Ardent, she was positioned to perform air defence duty at the entrance of San Carlos Water from Falkland Sound. On 23 May she was attacked by four Argentine Skyhawks in two waves. The second aircraft managed to put a 1,000lb bomb into Antelopes starboard side, killing one crewman. The bomb did not explode and the Skyhawk was shot down by small arms fire from Antelope’s upper deck. The second wave of Skyhawks attacked soon after. One of the attacking aircraft was shot down by Antelope’s 2omm cannon, and crashed through the ships mainmast. Although the pilot was killed, one of his bombs pierced the ship without exploding.

Antelope quickly moved into more sheltered water, and took oboard two Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from the  Royal Engineers – Warrant Officer Phillips and Staff Sergeant Prescott. Both unexploded bombs were in particularly dangerous situations – one was inacessible due to wreckage, and the other had been damaged. Neither would be easy to defuse. After attempting to remove this bombs fuse three times remotely, the EOD team placed a small explosive charge on the fuse. This charge ignited the bomb, killing Prescott instantly and seriously wounding Phillips. The ship was torn open. With major fires spreading and the water main fractured, Commander Nick Tobin gave the order to abandon ship.

Five minutes after Tobin left his ship, the missile magazine ignited, illuminating the night sky in San Carlos, and providing some of the most memorable war footage of the late twentieth century. The abandoned Antelope burned throughout the night and into the next day, her back broken, she slipped beneath the waves the next day on 24 May 2012.

As harsh as it sounds, both HMS Ardent and HMS Antelope were ‘sacrificial lambs’ in San Carlos. The Royal Navy and the Task Force could probably take the loss of two general purpose frigates – it might have found the loss of one of the landing ships, or even one of the Type 22 Frigates harder to take. Although the Type 21 Frigates were carrying obsolescent missile systems – such as Sea Cat – and were placed in an exposed role, they performed admirably in a war for which they were not entirely suited.

The interesting this is, the MOD always convenes a Board of Inquiry whenever a Royal Navy ship is sunk or badly damaged. And in the case of HMS Antelope, the report of the Board of Inquiry is actually available to read online here, albeit heavily redacted. The Board found that HMS Antelope and her crew had only passsed Operational Sea Training the year before with a ‘satisfactory’ pass, and that her training had been truncated – in particular regarding anti-air warfare. For this reason she had not been considered a first choice to deploy to the Falklands, but was sent south due to the gravity of the situation. She was sent into San Carlos straight after arriving in the theatre, and hence it was the first action that any of here crew had experienced.

In a sense, Antelope and her crew were completely in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for whatever reason were unprepared for what was facing them, with obsolescent weapons. But then again, any whether prepared or not any Royal Navy warship is liable to find itself in harms way. I think its particularly striking that HMS Antelope was sunk in a very similar manner to ships such as Lieutenant-Commander Bill Hussey’s HMS Lively in 1942 – fighting bravely, but overwhelmed by a swarm of enemy aircraft.

About these ads

12 Comments

Filed under Falklands War, Navy, Uncategorized

12 responses to “Falklands 30 – HMS Antelope

  1. It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.

    I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.

    I want to read even more things about it!

  2. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as
    I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
    My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would genuinely benefit from
    a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright
    with you. Regards!

  3. But this could apply to anybody; those of you who are single and those
    of you who are married, man or woman. Wally tells her it’s no longer his problem.
    Save some cash on gas through the use of public transportation or
    carpooling.

  4. With Facebook we can keep up with our buddies and family minute to minute even if we
    are hundreds of mile absent. You’d definitely
    take the new attributes offered by each design if you could, after all.

  5. Once the process begins enable the iTunes to
    update the firmware. Perhaps, the sole problem that comes in jailbreaking will be the security problems and the warranty.
    Scroll down seriously to start to see the version.

  6. They do not wish to run into legal issues, which simply makes sense.
    In the first place, the screen-size, battery life, Bluetooth service, storage,
    and Wifi connectivity are same in both. Apple’s affair showed a fresh verve.

  7. While you jailbreak with Redsnow, you will locate Cydia installed 4.
    We’ve said that this is our world tour that was last. The ruby’s right
    appeal is in its problems.

  8. Backups are kept for the last 7 days on your memory card.
    You can discover more info about whatsapp on pc here. Today’s globe of technology
    has arrive with a boon and a bane.

  9. Acest lucru nu înseamnă că ar trebui să devină un avar
    ; La polul opus , modul de inima lor este prin achiziționarea acestora .
    Dacă selectați un partener , acesta va fi probabil de la un loc de putere ,
    mai degrabă decât au nevoie .

  10. I think a Twitter Detox is in shop for this weekend!

    If you are having to pay for software, the providers are
    liable of creating the answer work. This means an overwhelming number of smartphones in the
    fingers of consumers.

  11. Encountering people with ridiculous or freezing eyes can lead
    to you contemplating the following:1. When customers increase, that you do
    not maintain multiple records, that will be the
    Linux system.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s