Introduction ] Broadsword ] Foreward ] The Gathering Storm ] Our Story ] Diary ] Surrender ] Convention ] Newspapers ] MIscellaneous ]

E N F O R C I N G   T H E   B L O C K A D E  A C T I O N   A T   L A S T
Longcast 1982 ] Ascension Island ] The Passage South ] The Falklands ] [ Action ] Seawolf ] Invasion 21st May ] Bomb Alley Day One 21st May ] Bomb Alley Day Two 22nd May ] Bomb Alley Day Three 23rd May ] Bomb Alley Day Four 24th May ] Coventry 25th May ] Total Exclusion Zone ] The Advance Ashore ] Bluff Cove ] Victory ] Epilogue ]

The action began to liven up on Saturday 8 May when the SAS and SBS were inserted and BRILLIANT sailed through Falkland Sound in search of shipping. Unfortunately she found nothing but her safe passage raised hopes that there was very little shipping to contend with around the island. ALACRITY carried out a bombardment of Port Stanley and YARMOUTH attempted to tow SHEFFIELD out of the TEZ. Unfortunately this was attempted in rough weather and despite a valiant effort by YARMOUTH, SHEFFIELD took in too much water and finally sank.

BROADSWORD had been goalkeeping on HERMES for so long that it came as a complete surprise when we were sent up front. On 9 May we sailed with COVENTRY to a position 12 miles from Port Stanley to attempt to enforce the air blockade. The idea was to use Coventry's sea Dart to shoot down aircraft before they got close enough to attack us and if this failed than our Sea Wolf would be used as point defence for both ships. This was to be our first taste of real action and many onboard were very apprehensive. "What would happen" "Would we survive". All these questions were asked but nobody knew the answers. However we were soon to find out.

COVENTRY was also tasked to bombard the shore using her Mark 8 gun. This did not last long for her gun jammed so we sat and waited for any aircraft. All was quiet for a long time as if the enemy did not know that we were there. An air raid then began to build up to the west and pulses quickened. The raid began to close and it was assessed as an Argentine Hercules with an escort of fighters. It kept on heading for Port Stanley and everyone got very excited, wondering if we were going to get a successful hit. Our quiet thoughts were shattered as three Sea Darts leapt off Coventry's launcher and disappeared towards the heavens. Everyone waited with bated breath for news of the attack. Surely we must have hit something. The report was eagerly awaited and when it came the ship's company were stunned. All three missiles were assessed as misses. We could hardly believe it. Thousands of pounds worth of modern missile had just been wasted. However the sight of a Sea Dart whistling over the pilot* s left shoulder gave the incoming aircraft something to think about and after a seconds thought they turned for home. It is very difficult with the Sea Dart system to confirm whether a hit has been achieved unless the target is seen to fall from the sky. They day was overcast and the target 40 miles away so we saw nothing. Argentina later reported losing two Skyhawks that day so maybe COVENTRY did hit something. We will never know. The lack of success spread a cloud a gloom throughout the ship and we would have been really fed up if we had not received news of a successful attack on the spy trawler NARWHAL. This ship had been warned to leave the TEZ earlier in the week but had obviously decided to ignore the warning. Two Harriers on a routine patrol found her and put one bomb clean through the hull and strafed the bridge. The crew were rescued and flown by Sea King to HERMES. Inspired by this small success we sat and waited for more air activity. We waited and waited and nothing came until we were about to set off to rejoin the carrier group. Our radar picked up a slow moving contract over the coast and quite incredibly this contact moved out over the sea. We quickly passed the target information to COVENTRY who loosed off a Sea Dart and this time a Puma helicopter fell from the sky in a ball of flame. Some felt that this was something of a hollow victory but when it was pointed out that it was probably carrying troops who would not think twice about killing our troops when they arrived ashore, they revised their attitude.

Feeling happier we returned to the carrier group to be replaced by BRILLIANT and GLASGOW on the day after. They saw no action and returned to the carrier group on the 10th to be relieved by COVENTRY and BROADSWORD on the following day. Unfortunately the action had to be aborted when Coventry's gun malfunctioned and our Sea Wolf system became unserviceable, so we returned east. Overnight ALACRITY and ARROW passed through the Sound and ALACRITY had a spectacular success. She came upon a darkened vessel lurking in a cove and opened fire with her gun. There was a huge explosion and the vessel disappeared. For one shell to destroy a ship in such a fashion could only mean that is was a fuel ship carrying supplies to troops ashore.