HMS Antelope (F170)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Antelope.
HMS Antelope 1982.jpg
HMS Antelope after being bombed on 23 May 1982, showing the mast bent in half
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Antelope
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Vosper Thornycroft
Laid down: 23 March 1971
Launched: 16 March 1972
Commissioned: 19 July 1975
Identification: Pennant number: F170
Motto: Audax et vigilans
("Daring and watchful")
Fate: Sunk by Argentine bombs on 24 May 1982
General characteristics
Class & type: Type 21 frigate
Displacement: 3,250 tons full load
Length: 384 ft (117 m)
Beam: 41 ft 9 in (12.73 m)
Draught: 19 ft 6 in (5.94 m)
Propulsion: COGOG:
2 × Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines
2 × Rolls-Royce Tyne RM1A gas turbines for cruising
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles at 17 knots (7,400 km at 31 km/h)
1,200 nautical miles at 30 knots (2,220 km at 56 km/h)
Complement: 177
Armament: 1 × 4.5-inch (114 mm) Mark 8 naval gun
2 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
1 × quadruple Sea Cat SAMs
2 × triple ASW torpedo tubes
2 × Corvus chaff launchers
1 × Type 182 towed decoy
Aircraft carried: 1 × Westland Wasp helicopter, later refitted for 1 × Lynx

HMS Antelope was a Type 21 frigate of the Royal Navy that participated in the Falklands War. Her keel was laid down 23 March 1971 by Vosper Thornycroft in Woolston, Southampton, England.

Initial budget costs for this class were £3.5 million, with final costs exceeding £14 million. She was commissioned on 17 July 1975, and was the only unit of the class never to be fitted with Exocet launchers.

Stern view

Royal Navy Service[edit]

In 1977, she attended the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review. At this time she was part of the 7th Frigate Squadron.[1]

Falklands War[edit]

Antelope took part in the Falklands War 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, protecting the beachhead established two days before, she came under attack by four Argentine A-4B Skyhawks of Grupo 5. The first pair attacked from astern, with the flight leader breaking off his attack after one of Antelope's Sea Cat SAMs exploded under the port wing of his aircraft.

The pilot, Capitán Pablo Carballo, managed to nurse his aircraft back to Rio Gallegos. The second aircraft on this flight pressed home his bomb run and put a 1,000 pound bomb in the Antelope's 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 before crashing through Antelope's main mast. Guadagnini was killed, and his bomb pierced the frigate's hull, also without exploding.[2] 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 missed, but passed less than 10 metres from Carballo's cockpit.

After initial damage control efforts, Antelope proceeded to more sheltered waters so that two bomb disposal technicians from the Royal Engineers 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 bomb disposal team to withdraw the fuse of this bomb by remote means failed.

A fourth attempt using a small explosive charge detonated the bomb, killing Staff Sergeant James Prescott instantly and severely injuring Warrant Officer Phillips, the other member of the bomb disposal team. The ship was torn open from waterline 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; 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 Antelope using a Mark 2 LCVP, one of four carried by assault ship HMS Fearless. 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.[3]

Antelope's magazines exploding on 24 May 1982.

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 still pictures of Antelope's demise became one of the iconic images of the Falklands War and appear repeatedly in histories of the event.[4]

On 27 January 2002 a diving team from HMS Montrose replaced the Naval Ensign on Antelope. The wreck is designated as a prohibited area under the Falkland Islands Protection of Wrecks Act.[5][6]

Commanding Officers[edit]

From To Captain
1974 1976 Commander Nicholas Hill-Norton RN
1977 1977 Commander B W Turner RN
1977 1979 Commander P B Rowe MVO RN
1980 1982 Commander Nick Tobin

References[edit]

  1. ^ Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  2. ^ Primer Teniente Guadagnini
  3. ^ Memorials and Monuments in the Royal Marines Museum, Portsmouth (Landing Craft)
  4. ^ Aulich, James (1992). Framing the Falklands War: nationhood, culture, and identity. Open University Press, p. 150. ISBN 0-335-09684-0
  5. ^ Protection of Wrecks Ordnance 1977 (No. 12) 7 July 1977 (Falkland Islands)
  6. ^ Protection of Wrecks (Ardent and Antelope Designation) Order 1983 (No. 2) 20 October 1983 (Falkland Islands)

Publications[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°33′3″S 59°3′30″W / 51.55083°S 59.05833°W / -51.55083; -59.05833