HMS Antelope (F170)

HMS Antelope (F170) was a Type 21 frigate
Type 21 frigate
The Type 21 frigate or Amazon-class frigate was a Royal Navy general-purpose escort designed in the late 1960s, built in the 1970s and that served throughout the 1980s into the 1990s.-History:...

 of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 that participated in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

. Her keel was laid down 23 March 1971 by Vosper Thornycroft in Woolston, Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, England. Budget costs for this class were £3.5 million but actual costs exceeded £14 million. She was commissioned on 17 July 1975 and was the only unit of the class never to be fitted with Exocet
The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Hundreds were fired in combat during the 1980s.-Etymology:...


Falklands War

HMS Antelope took part in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 arriving in the area of operations on 21 May 1982.

On 23 May 1982, while on air defence duty at the entrance to San Carlos Water
Battle of San Carlos (1982)
The Battle of San Carlos was a major battle between aircraft and ships that lasted from 21 to 25 May 1982 during the British landings on the shores of San Carlos Water in the 1982 Falklands War . Low-flying land-based Argentine jet aircraft made repeated attacks on ships of the British Task Force...

, protecting the beachhead established two days before, she came under attack by four Argentine
Argentine Air Force
The Argentine Air Force is the national aviation branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic. , it had 14,606 military and 6,854 civilian staff.-History:...

 A-4B Skyhawks of Grupo 5. The first pair attacked from astern with the flight leader breaking off his attack after one of 's Sea Cat SAMs
Sea Cat missile
Sea Cat was a British short-range surface to air missile system intended to replace the ubiquitous Bofors 40 mm gun aboard warships of all sizes. It was the world's first operational shipboard point-defence missile system and was designed so that the Bofors guns could be replaced with minimum...

 exploded under the port wing of his aircraft. The pilot, Capitán Pablo Carballo
Pablo Carballo
Commodore Pablo Marcos Rafael Carballo is a retired member of the Argentine Air Force - the Fuerza Aérea Argentina - who fought in the 1982 Falklands War where he participated in actions that led to the sinking of three Royal Navy ships...

, managed to nurse his aircraft back to Rio Gallegos. The second aircraft on this flight prosecuted his bomb run and put a 1,000 pound bomb in the Antelopes starboard side, killing one crewman, Steward Mark R. Stephens. The bomb did not explode and the Argentine aircraft was damaged by small arms fire.

The second pair of Skyhawks attacked minutes later from the starboard quarter. During this attack, one of the Argentine jets, piloted by First Lieutenant Luciano Guadagnini, was hit by the ship's 20mm cannon
Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
The Oerlikon 20 mm cannon is a series of autocannons, based on an original design by Reinhold Becker of Germany, very early in World War I, and widely produced by Oerlikon Contraves and others...

 before crashing through Antelopes main mast. Guadagnini was killed, and his bomb pierced the frigate's hull, also without exploding. Antelope also fired a Sea Cat at what was believed to be a fifth attacker, but this was Capitán Carballo, who was still trying to establish if his aircraft was fit to fly. This missile flew less than 10 metres from Carballo's cockpit.

After initial damage control efforts, Antelope proceeded to more sheltered waters so that two EOD
Bomb disposal
Bomb disposal is the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe. Bomb disposal is an all encompassing term to describe the separate, but interrelated functions in the following fields:*Military:...

 technicians from the Corps of Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 could come aboard and attempt to defuse the two unexploded bombs. One of the bombs was inaccessible because of wreckage; the other had been damaged and was thought to be in a particularly dangerous condition. Three attempts by the EOD team to withdraw the fuse of this bomb by remote means failed. A fourth attempt, using a small explosive charge, led to the detonation of the weapon, killing Staff Sergeant James Prescott instantly and severely injuring Warrant Officer Phillips, the other member of the EOD team. The ship was torn open from water line to funnel, with the blast starting major fires in both engine rooms which spread very quickly. The starboard fire main was fractured, the ship lost all electrical power, and the commanding officer, Commander Nick Tobin, gave the order to abandon ship. Tobin was the last person to leave the ship, and about five minutes after his departure, the missile magazines began exploding. Royal Marine Coxswain Corporal Alan White received a commendation from the Task Force Commander, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, for his part in rescuing 41 crew from the Antelope using a Foxtrot 7, one of four LCVPs carried by assault ship HMS Fearless
HMS Fearless (L10)
HMS Fearless was a Royal Navy ship which served from 1965 until 2002. One of two from the Landing Platform Dock class she was based in HMNB Portsmouth and saw service around the world over her 37 year life...

. The landing craft, Foxtrot 7, is now located in the Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth, with detailed accounts from Corporal Alan White of the missions he took part in, including the landings at San Carlos.

Explosions continued throughout the night. The following day, Antelope was still afloat, but her keel had broken and her superstructure melted into a heap of twisted metal. Antelope broke in half and sank that day. TV and stills pictures of Antelopes demise became one of the iconic images of the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 and appear repeatedly in histories of the event.

On 27 January 2002, a diving team from HMS Montrose
HMS Montrose (F236)
The second and current HMS Montrose is the eighth of a sixteen ship class of frigates, known as Type 23 or the 'Duke' class, of the Royal Navy. She was laid down in November 1989 by Yarrow Shipbuilders on the Clyde...

 replaced the Naval Ensign
An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry...

 on Antelope. The wreck is designated as a prohibited area under the Falkland Islands Protection of Wrecks Act.

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