Monday, July 03, 2006

RFA Sir Galahad in Southampton water for the last time

The three pictures above are of the second Sir Galahad and one of its landing craft pictured after the attack in the Falklands. Those below are of the ship constructed in 1987. All pictures are believed to be Crown Copyright reserved.

The third Royal Fleet Auxiliary shipto be named RFA Sir Galahad arrived at Marchwood Military Port for the final time on Friday 23rd of June after completing her last amphibious exercise off the west coast of Scotland. She will go out of service on the 1st of August and the plan is to have one final sailing to Portsmouth where she will be de-commissioned, an event that will be of less significance than the retirement of the last Sir Galahad, which was sunk as a war grave almost 24 years ago earlier to the day, on 24 June 1982.
On May 24, 1982 in San Carlos Water she was attacked by in a very heavy raid by A-4B Skyhawks of the Argentine Air Force and was hit by one 1000-pound bomb which did not detonate and strafed in a following wave of attack aircraft. On June 8 in Bluff Cove together with Sir Tristram, she was hit again by three bombs which created an intense flash fire across her decks. Very badly damaged, she was involved in unloading soldiers at the time of the attack from the 1st Welsh Guards. Terribly 48 of them, the crew and other passengers were killed in the explosions and subsequent fire. Dozens more were injured, some permantly disfigured by massive burns. Later the hulk was towed out to sea and sunk by HMS Onyx (which was the only diesel powered submarine to be used in the Falklands campaign) ; the site is now an official war grave.
The suffering of some of the survivors, most famous of whom is Simon Weston (later awarded an OBE), who suffered 46% burns, must have been terrible. I met Simon at an event in Porchester a couple of years ago- like many of his collegues, he is inspiration in how he has come to terms with his injuries.
At the same time, two men were killed on the RFA Sir Tristram when it was strafed, and another six on a small landing craft of HMS Fearless, which was blown up by rocket fire in the bay, making the air attack at Bluff Cove one of the most bloody events of that short war. Not enough is done to remember the veterans of that conflict, nor enough help given to veterans or their families.

The Commanding Officer of the current ship, Captain R W Dorey RFA happens to be a resident in Southampton.

RFA website


Blogger Apprentice said...

There were only two Sir Galahads.
1. 1966 - 1982
2. 1987 - 2006

12:23 pm  

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