Toll rises as frigate blazes, one killed in jet attack
One man died and five were wounded on the frigate which was ‘seriously damaged’ during an attack by Argentinian jets yesterday afternoon, the Ministry of Defence said today. Sailors were this morning still trying to put out a number of fires on the vessel and details of the damage are not yet known.
A Ministry spokesman also said that one more Argentinian Mirage was shot down during yesterday’s air battles around the task force bridgehead at Port San Carlos on East Falkland.
This brings the total number of losses yesterday to six Mirages and one Skyhawk shot down with a further Mirage and two Skyhawks probably destroyed.
In its first statement today, the MoD said: ‘There have been no reports of engagements with Argentine forces during the night.
‘We do not yet have firm details of the damage caused to one of our frigates in yesterday’s attack by Argentine aircraft.
‘But our latest information is that there was one death and five were wounded.
‘Further details will be given when full information has been received and next of kin have been informed.’
Meanwhile, The News ‘Keep the Fleet’ campaign has passed another major landmark and today stands at 120,092 names.
Signatures continue to flow in from all over the country. Some have a covering letter but others, like a batch of more than 400 from Cleveland, arrive with no explanation as to how they were collected.
Luckiest men in the navy
The 500-strong crew of the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Antrim are the luckiest men in the Falklands task force.
Two 1,000lb bombs dropped by an Argentine Skyhawk fighter bomber during Friday’s fierce air attack ripped through Antrim’s deck, jammed in the machinery of the engine room…and failed to explode.
Antrim’s men knew that the fate of the ship was in the hands of naval bomb disposal experts serving for just this emergency.
The steam and gas powered turbines were switched off as the two experts from the mine and bomb disposal team based at H.M.S. Vernon, Portsmouth, climbed down into the empty engine room.
‘Your son is safe…’
The parents of Commander Alan West, commanding officer of HMS Ardent - the Royal Navy frigate sunk during the liberation assault on the Falklands - made a special trip to Portsmouth yesterday for the news of their son.
Mr Walter West and his wife Jacqueline were told that he was safe and on board the liner Canberra.
The couple had just returned from a holiday in France when they learned that the frigate had been sunk. They drove to Portsmouth where their 21-year-old married daughter, Leading Wren Julia Smith, gave them the good news.
Trust may get free space
The Mary Rose Trust is looking to expand its interests in Old Portsmouth - albeit on a temporary basis.
Portsmouth City Council has been urged to allow the trust free use of the ground floor of Electricity House, Lombard Street, formerly occupied by Townsend Thoresen.
The trust needs the building on a temporary basis while artefacts from the Mary Rose continue to be brought ashore and take up valuable space at their Warblington Street headquarters, nearby.
Members of Portsmouth’s property sub-committee will discuss an officers’ recommendation to approve the plan on Wednesday.