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HMS Ardent (F184) was a Royal Navy type 21 frigate. Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd, Glasgowmarker, Scotlandmarker. She was completed with Exocet launchers in 'B' position.

Falklands War

Ardent participated in the Falklands War. On 21 May 1982, whilst lying in Falkland Soundmarker and supporting Operation Sutton by bombarding the Argentine airstrip at Goose Greenmarker, 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 dropped two bombs at 16:00 Z, which straddled the frigate but both failed to explode.

The bulk of the air strikes begun at 17:40 Z. Ardent was ordered to proceed west of North West Island along with HMS Yarmouth to "split air attacks from the south". A group of three aircraft, either Skyhawks or IAI Daggers 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 up the attackers, who also outmanoeuvred the 4.5" gun by carrying out their run out of its arc of fire. Two bombs blasted at the hangar area, destroying the Westland Lynx 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.
Mk.
82 bomb with Tail Retarding Device, used by the Argentine Navy A4Qs in the attack on HMS Ardent
Still in full control of her engines and steering, but virtually defenceless, Ardent was told to head north, toward Port San Carlosmarker. But at 18:00 five Skyhawk 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 Soundmarker, the fires in her stern now out of control. With the ship listing heavily, Captain West decided to abandon the ship. HMS Yarmouth then came alongside to take off survivors. The crew was transferred to SS 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.

The last man to leave was her captain, Cdr. Alan West, who was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and served as First Sea Lord from 2002-2006.

Within days navy divers removed her light AA guns for fitting to other ships and her foremast was used as Navigational warning and datum by her sister ship HMS Arrow whilst she bombarded Goose Green.

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

Argentine version

Air Force attacks

According to the Argentine Air Force official web site Ardent received two attacks from FAA aircraft:

  • 14:00 by a lone A-4B Skyhawk 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 Río Carcaraña- which was attacked by one of the jets. The other fighter, piloted by the package commander, Captain Carballo, dropped one bomb on a frigate he found at Grantham Sound. He reported heavy antiaircraft fire. The bomb exploded on the stern.
  • 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 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 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 antiaircraft missiles.


Navy aircraft sortie

At 15:01 three Argentine Navy A-4Q Skyhawks 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, but this mission was carried out from a land base at Rio Grandemarker. Navy aircraft used a dozen retarding tail bombs 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 ejected safely and after been 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 Stanleymarker. The pilot was rescued from the water by Cpt. Svendsen's Huey UH-1H of the Argentine Army. Arca's ejection took place at Cape Pembroke, just two miles away from Stanley airstrip.

Notes

  1. Higgit, page 48
  2. Fitzsimons, Edward: The Illustrated encyclopedia of 20th century weapons and warfare. Purnell Reference Books, 1979. V. 1, page 92
  3. Higgit, page 52
  4. Board of Inquiry - Report into the Loss of HMS Ardent, page 2
  5. Smith, page 79
  6. Board of Inquiry - Report into the Loss of HMS Ardent, page 3
  7. Board of Inquiry - Report into the Loss of HMS Ardent, pp. 3-4
  8. www.mod.operations.uk
  9. Protection of Wrecks Ordnance 1977 (No. 12) 7 July 1977 (Falkland Islands)
  10. Protection of Wrecks (Ardent and Antelope Designation) Order 1983 (No. 2) 20 October 1983 (Falkland Islands)
  11. www.fuerzaaerea.mil.ar
  12. www.fuerzaaerea.mil.ar
  13. www.fuerzaaerea.mil.ar
  14. Higgit, page 221
  15. Villarino, Horacio: Exocet. Ed. Abril, 1984. Page 206. ISBN 9501001164
  16. Chant, page 84
  17. La balada del piloto bahiense y el estanciero kelper
  18. Brown, page 195
  19. Villarino, pp. 204-205


References




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