HMS Ardent (F184)
HMS Ardent was a 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...

 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:...

. Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd, Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. She was completed 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:...

 launchers in 'B' position. Ardent 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...

, where she was sunk by Argentine aircraft in the Falkland Sound
Falkland Sound
The Falkland Sound is a sea strait in the Falkland Islands. Running south west - north east, it separates West and East Falkland.-Name:The sound was named by John Strong in 1690 for Viscount Falkland, the name only later being applied to the archipelago and its two largest islands...

 on 22 May 1982.

Falklands War

On 19 April 1982, HMS Ardent sailed from Devonport
Devonport Naval Base
Devonport Naval Base is the home of the Royal New Zealand Navy, located at Devonport, New Zealand on Auckland's North Shore. It is currently the only base of the navy that operates ships, and was a navy base from as far back as 1841...

, Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

 for the Falkland Islands. On route, she escorted taskforce ships that had left late, on their way to Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

, arriving on 3 May and sailing on the morning of the 7 May. On the 9th of May 1982 while 700 miles south west of Ascension, Ardent closed to within 200 yards of SS Canberra
SS Canberra
SS Canberra was an ocean liner, which later operated on cruises, in the P&O fleet from 1961 to 1997. She was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland at a cost of £17,000,000. The ship was named on 17 March 1958, after the federal capital of Australia, Canberra...

 starboard side and provided a gun power demonstration to the troops sailing south..

On 21 May 1982, whilst lying in Falkland Sound and supporting Operation Sutton
Operation Sutton
During the 1982 Falklands War, Operation Sutton was the British landings on the shores of San Carlos Water, at Ajax Bay and Port San Carlos, near the San Carlos on East Falkland. During the night 3 Commando Brigade along with attached units of the Parachute Regiment were landed from the liner SS...

 by bombarding the Argentine airstrip at Goose Green
Goose Green
Goose Green is a settlement in Lafonia on East Falkland in the Falkland Islands. It lies on Choiseul Sound, on the east side of the island's central isthmus, south-southwest of Darwin. With a population of about 70, it is the second largest settlement of the Falkland Islands.Goose Green has a shop...

, Ardent was attacked by at least three waves of Argentine aircraft. The air strikes resulted in the sinking of Ardent the next day.

British version

The first attack took place when a lone A-4 Skyhawk
A-4 Skyhawk
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D...

 dropped two bombs at 16:00 Z
Greenwich Mean Time
Greenwich Mean Time is a term originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. It is arguably the same as Coordinated Universal Time and when this is viewed as a time zone the name Greenwich Mean Time is especially used by bodies connected with the United...

, which straddled the frigate but both failed to explode.

The bulk of the air strikes began at 17:40 Z. Ardent was ordered to proceed west of North West Island along with HMS Yarmouth
HMS Yarmouth (F101)
HMS Yarmouth was the first Modified Type 12 frigate of the Rothesay class to enter service with the Royal Navy. From her commissioning in 1960, she performed in numerous roles, including the Third Cod War and the Falklands War....

 to "split air attacks from the south". A group of three aircraft, either Skyhawks or IAI Daggers
IAI Nesher
The Israel Aircraft Industries Nesher is the Israeli version of the Dassault Mirage 5 multi-role fighter aircraft...

 crossed the Falklands Sound from the west and then turned to their left in order to attack from the north east. Cannon fire and three bombs struck home as the Argentine aircraft pressed their attack from the port side. The only weapons which reacted properly were the 20 mm AA cannons. The Sea Cat system failed to lock onto the attackers, who also outmanoeuvred the 4.5" gun by carrying out their run out of its arc of fire. Two bombs exploded in the hangar area, destroying the Westland Lynx
Westland Lynx
The Westland Lynx is a British multi-purpose military helicopter designed and built by Westland Helicopters at its factory in Yeovil. Originally intended as a utility craft for both civil and naval usage, military interest led to the development of both battlefield and naval variants...

 helicopter and blowing the Sea Cat launcher 80 ft (24 m) into the air before it crashed back down onto the flight deck, and the third crashed through the aft auxiliary machinery room but failed to explode. The aft switchboard was severely damaged, with the consequent loss of power for some key assets, such as the main gun. The hangar was left in flames, and the crew suffered a number of casualties.

Still in full control of her engines and steering, but virtually defenceless, Ardent was told to head north, toward Port San Carlos
Port San Carlos
Port San Carlos is located on the northern bank of the inlet known as Port San Carlos, off San Carlos Water on the Western coast of East Falkland, in the Falkland Islands...

. But at 18:00 five Skyhawks approached the frigate and dropped a great number of free-fall and retard bombs. A pattern of two to four bombs exploded in the port quarter (aft), while an undetermined number of others which failed to explode penetrated into the ship. Some of the remaining bombs exploded in the water nearby, battering Ardent and resulting in a minor flooding in the forward auxiliary machine room. The Dining Hall was shattered, while communications between the bridge and the Ship Control Centre were cut off, and the ship lost steering. This attack caused many casualties, especially among the damage-control teams working in the hangar.
Ardent stopped in the shallow waters of Grantham Sound
Grantham Sound
Grantham Sound is a bay on East Falkland, Falkland Islands, which opens out into the Falkland Sound. At its landward end, it narrows and becomes Brenton Loch . Mount Usborne overlooks it....

, the fires in her stern now out of control. With the ship listing heavily, Commander Alan West
Alan West, Baron West of Spithead
Admiral Alan William John West, Baron West of Spithead GCB DSC PC was, from June 2007 to May 2010, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the British Home Office with responsibility for Security and a Security Advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown...

 decided to abandon the ship. HMS Yarmouth then came alongside to take off survivors. The crew was transferred to SS Canberra
SS Canberra
SS Canberra was an ocean liner, which later operated on cruises, in the P&O fleet from 1961 to 1997. She was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland at a cost of £17,000,000. The ship was named on 17 March 1958, after the federal capital of Australia, Canberra...

. At that time it was known that 22 men had lost their lives. Ardent continued to burn throughout the night, accompanied by the occasional explosion, until she sank at 6:30 the following morning, with only her foremast remaining above the water.

Able Seaman John Dillon was able to remove debris from an injured sailor and, despite his own burns, got the man topside and into the water where they were both rescued. For his heroism he received a George Medal
George Medal
The George Medal is the second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of The Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage...


The last man to leave was her captain, Commander Alan West, who was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and served as First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

 from 2002-2006.

Within days naval divers removed her light AA guns for fitting to other ships and her foremast was used as a navigational warning and datum by her sister ship HMS Arrow
HMS Arrow (F173)
HMS Arrow was a Type 21 frigate of the Royal Navy. Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, she was completed with Exocet launchers in 'B' position.-Falklands War service:...

 whilst she bombarded Goose Green.

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

Air Force attacks

According to the Argentine Air Force
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:...

 official web site Ardent was the subject of two attacks from FAA aircraft:
  • 14:00 by a lone A-4B Skyhawk
    A-4 Skyhawk
    The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D...

     of 5th Air Group. Four A-4B took off from Rio Gallegos at 11:30. After experiencing problems during the air-to-air refuelling, two aircraft were forced to abort and fly back to their base. Once over the Falklands Sound, the remainder Skyhawks chanced upon an unidentified transport ship - she was apparently the abandoned Argentine cargo vessel Río Carcaraña - which was attacked by one of the jets. The other fighter, piloted by the package commander, Captain 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...

     dropped one 1000 lb (453.6 kg) dumb bomb on a frigate he found at Grantham Sound. He reported heavy anti-aircraft fire but returned safely. The bomb exploded on the stern. Carballo went on to attack HMS Broadsword
    HMS Broadsword (F88)
    HMS Broadsword was the lead ship and first Batch 1 unit of the Type 22 frigates of the Royal Navy.-Service:While on sea trials, Broadsword was called into service as the command ship during the large rescue operation required after storms struck the 1979 Fastnet race.Broadsword took part in the...

     a few days later.
  • 14:40 by IAI Daggers of 6th Air Group. A package of two Daggers, led by Captain Mir González, was joined by a third Dagger returning from an aborted sortie. They headed together toward San Carlos, but were intercepted by a patrol of Sea Harriers vectored by HMS Brillant
    HMS Brilliant (F90)
    HMS Brilliant was a Type 22 frigate of the Royal Navy.She was part of the Task Force that took part in the Falklands War, with Captain John Coward in command...

     and the attached aircraft was shot down over West Falkland. The pilot ejected and was recovered later. The two original Daggers successfully outran the British air patrol and entered Falklands Sound from the south. They discovered a frigate and dropped two 1000 lb (453.6 kg) bombs on her stern. They also hit the craft with their 30 mm cannons. According to this report, the warship responded to the attack by firing anti-aircraft missiles.

Navy aircraft sortie

At 15:01 three Argentine Navy
Argentine Navy
The Navy of the Argentine Republic or Armada of the Argentine Republic is the navy of Argentina. It is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the Army and the Air Force....

 A-4Q Skyhawks
A-4 Skyhawk
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D...

 of 3rd Fighter and Attack Naval Sqd. hit Ardent with at least two bombs on the stern, a number of unexploded bombs which ripped into the hull and several near-misses. The mother ship of these fighters was usually the carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo
ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2)
The ARA Veinticinco de Mayo was an aircraft carrier in the Argentine Navy from 1969 to 1997. The English translation of the name is the Twenty-fifth of May, which is the date of Argentina's May Revolution in 1810....

, but this mission was carried out from a land base at Rio Grande. Navy aircraft used a dozen 500 lb (226.8 kg) retarding tail bombs
Mark 82 bomb
The Mark 82 is an unguided, low-drag general-purpose bomb, part of the U.S. Mark 80 series. The explosive filling is tritonal.-Development and deployment:...

 during the attack. During their escape they were shot down by Sea Harriers. The pilot who made the final run, Lt. Gustavo Marcelo Márquez was killed in action after his A-4Q was hit by 30 mm fire and exploded. Lt. Philippi, shot down by an AIM-9L Sidewinder missile
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 ejected safely and after being sheltered by local farmer Tony Blake during the night, he rejoined Argentine forces. Lt. Arca, with his A-4Q also struck by 30 mm rounds, bailed out safely after an unsuccessful attempt to land at Stanley
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Stanley is the capital and only true cityin the Falkland Islands. It is located on the isle of East Falkland, on a north-facing slope in one of the wettest parts of the islands. At the 2006 census, the city had a population of 2,115...

. The pilot was rescued from the water by Captain Svendsen's Huey UH-1H of the Argentine Army
Argentine Army
The Argentine Army is the land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military service of the country.- History :...

. Arca's ejection took place at Cape Pembroke
Cape Pembroke
Cape Pembroke is the easternmost point of the Falkland Islands, and is on East Falkland. There is an automated lighthouse here.-Lighthouse:An automated lighthouse on Cape Pembroke was built in 1855, and rebuilt in 1906, and was restored in the 1990s...

, just two miles (3 km) away from Stanley airstrip.
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