HMS Argonaut F56 during the Falklands War

HMS Argonaut F56 in 1995

By Don S. Montgomery, USN – U.S.

In 1982 the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina. An advanced group of British vessels began to steam towards Ascension Island on 2 April, a territory that would play a strategic part during Operation Corporate. On 19 April, Argonaut, along with Ardent and two Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Regent and Plumleaf finally headed for Ascension Island. On the 29th, the group finally arrived at Ascension, and on 6 May the Argonaut Group departed the island for the Falklands. On the 16th, the Group joined the large Amphibious Group centred on Fearless and Intrepid, and on the 18th the Group met up with the Carrier Battle Group.

On 21 May Argonaut, along with other destroyers and frigates, provided close escort for the amphibious vessels during the successful landing at San Carlos Water. On that day, Argonaut was attacked twice by Argentine aircraft. The first attack, carried out with cannon fire and rockets by an Argentine Navy Aermacchi MB-339, flown by Lieutenant Crippa, caused some damage, including to her Type 965 radar. The second attack was launched by five A-4 Skyhawks call sign Leo, which hitArgonaut with two bombs. Neither exploded, although one killed two sailors, Able Seaman Iain M. Boldy and Able Seaman Matthew J. Stuart, when it entered the ship’s Sea Cat missile magazine, detonating two missiles. Plymouth came to the assistance of Argonaut and towed her away from immediate danger. Both bombs were still active, and it took some days to deactivate them. This was very risky work, as demonstrated on 24 May when Antelope sank after an unexploded bomb detonated while British Army experts were attempting to deactivate it.

On 14 June Argentine forces in the Falklands surrendered, ending the 74 days war. On 26 June Argonaut arrived home to Devonport Dockyard, where she underwent repairs for her battle damage. During the repairs, new sonar equipment was fitted.

HMS Argonaut

 

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