We were just coming out through the gap by the Round Tower and you could see all the people lining the seafront. There were thousands of them and they were cheering and waving.’
‘It’s the first time I’ve actually seen him go and I’m going to miss him a lot.’
Two quotes, the former from a navy veteran recalling the departure of the Task Force from Portsmouth 30 years ago today, the latter from a 12-year-old boy who watched his dad’s ship sail for the South Atlantic yesterday.
Thankfully HMS Dauntless and young Kai Howells’ dad Geoff are not sailing to war, unlike Iain Shickle and so many other sailors were doing on this day in 1982.
But the sentiments remain the same. Once more yesterday, as it has done for centuries, Portsmouth waved off a ship, praying for its safe return and for the welfare of its crew.
There are those who see the departure of the powerful Dauntless as an act of provocation by the Government at this time of anniversary.
But that view is not widely held in Portsmouth. In this great seafaring city and its environs, we know that our safety over the ages has rested in the capable and reliable hands of the Royal Navy.
Thousands of miles away in the South Atlantic, another community feels just the same.
Falkland islanders will welcome the arrival of the Dauntless as a demonstration of the naval might necessary to protect their wish to remain British.
In Argentina, the political mood has oscillated over the past 30 years on the vexed question of the sovereignty of the islands.
Thirty years on from the start of the successful campaign to liberate the islands from Argentine invaders, feelings are bound to run high again in Buenos Aires.
The presence of the Dauntless is a reminder – and a legitimate one – that the people of the Falkland Islands wish to remain subjects of the Queen.
It is our duty to remind the world of this, and in doing so to honour the sacrifice of those who did not return with the Task Force that sailed from our great city 30 years ago today.