SS Canberra returns home from the Falklands War July 11th 1982

SS Canberra victoriously returns home from the Falklands War. Southampton, July 11th, 1982.

After the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982, which initiated the Falklands War, the Ministry of Defence requisitioned the “Canberra” as use as a troopship. Nicknamed the “Great White Whale”, the “Canberra” proved vital in transporting the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines to the islands more than 9,000 miles from the UK. Whilst the “Queen Elizabeth 2” was held to be too vulnerable to enter the war zone, “Canberra” was sent to the heart of the conflict.

“Canberra” anchored in San Carlos Water on 21 May as part of the landings by British forces to retake the islands. Although her size and white colour made her an unmissable target for the Argentine Air Force, the “Canberra”, if sunk, would not have been completely submerged in the shallow waters at San Carlos. However, the liner was not badly hit during the landings as the Argentine pilots tended to attack the Royal Navy frigates and destroyers instead of the supply and troop ships.

When the war ended, Canberra was used to repatriate the Argentine Army, before returning to Southampton to a rapturous welcome. After a lengthy refit, Canberra returned to civilian service as a cruise ship. Her role in the Falklands War made her very popular with the British public, and ticket sales after her return were elevated for many years as a result.


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