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Taken by Bob Shackleton

The "Port" of Ascension Island - Clarence Bay

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Royal Navy
46. HMS Hermes (also following) arriving with escort and an LSL   47.
48.   49.
50.   51.
52. HMS Invincible (also following) and her escort   53.
54. .... with RMS St Helena   55.
56. County-class destroyer HMS Antrim  
57. "Probably" HMS Antrim. Note seamen on stages over the side painting out the ship's pennant number.

From Ian Inskip, Navigating Officer of HMS Glamorgan in 1982 - "the difference between the two (County-class) was that Glamorgan had a gap between her boats on the port side and Antrim did not. I am 95% sure it is Antrim (above right) and not Glamorgan.  I reckon both boats are next to each other, without a gap.  Also the anchorage position does not look familiar."

From Chris Parry, Wessex 3 aircrew at the time, retired as Rear Admiral in 2008 - "You are dead right with your designation of the photograph of HMS ANTRIM at Ascension Island.  The 'sailors' painting out the ship's pennant number are Sub Lieutenant Declan Ward and Lieutenant Chris Parry - who decided to do their bit for ship's company morale!"

58. Carrier Battle Group escorts including County-class destroyer, probably HMS Glamorgan, Type 22 frigate HMS Broadsword and Rothesay-class frigate HMS Yarmouth
  59. HMS Broadsword and more "cross-decking"
60. Broadsword and Yarmouth again  
61. Broadsword's pennant numbers being painted out at side and stern
Type 21 frigate - possibly Alacrity, Arrow, Ardent or Antelope at this stage

"Antelope arrived with the LSL's and left, I think, on the 30th April with them and RFA Pearleaf" (thanks to Frank Purcell)

64. Type 21 - possibly HMS Ardent, lost 21st May  
65. Presumably HMS Onyx, the only diesel-engined submarine believed to have served with the British Task Force
66. HMS Onyx with tanker British Avon  
67. HMS Onyx alongside RFA Tidespring, possibly when she had returned to Ascension with the Argentine prisoners from South Georgia (courtesy, Peter Robinson, Editor, RFA Historical Society, who was on her at the time)
68.   69.
Fishery protection vessels HMS Leeds Castle or Dumbarton Castle, serving as despatch vessels
70. One of the trawlers requisitioned as minesweepers - Cordella, Farnella,  Junella, Northella or Pict
71. Royal Mail and local supply ship RMS St Helena, later a minesweeper support ship
72. LCU F4 belonging to HMS Fearless (left - no enlargement). On the 8th June in the Falklands, she was bombed and sunk with the loss of six of the crew
Groups of Ships

LSL - Landing Ship Logistics, comprising Sir Bedivere, Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale and Sir Tristram

73. LSL, tanker Balder London (but see 94b), LSL and troop transport Canberra beyond, assault ship Fearless (?)   74. Canberra, two LSL's, Hermes beyond, transport Elk, LSL
75. Elk, Balder London (but see 94b), LSL Sir Galahad   76. LSL Sir Tristram with mexeflote and helicopter (foreground), beyond Sir Lancelot, freighter A.E.S., assault ship Fearless (?), fleet replenishment ship Fort Austin (?)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
77. Fleet replenishment ship - probably Fort Austin   78. ..... this time with US container ship Mormacsea
79. .... and with two LSL's, Sir Geraint on right   80. LSL Sir Galahad, bombed and lost 8th June
81. LSL Sir Tristram with Wessex hovering,  mexeflote lashed alongside, and beyond, a County-class destroyer   82. LSL Sir Tristram and beyond her, Sir Lancelot and probably Fearless
83. Tide-class fleet tanker (Peter Robinson)
Merchant Ships Taken up from Trade
as Naval Auxiliaries
84. Troop transport Canberra   85. Canberra and her helicopter deck
86. Troop equipment transport Elk (and following) with an LCU at her stern ramp   87.
88.   89. Hospital ship Uganda and repair ship Stena Seaspread
90. Stena Seaspread   91. ..... and her fire-fighting capability
92. Tanker British Avon   93. ..... and again
94. Originally believed to be Tanker Balder London, but identity now unknown (see 94b)   94b. Tanker Balder London in 1981 -


thanks to Larry Collier. "I believe images 73, 75 and the close-up 94 are incorrect as this is not the Balder London. At the time of the Falklands I was Chief Officer on the ship. Although the images you have are similar, the bridge wings are different, as is the bow. The Balder London did not have a satellite system: we relied on morse code for communications which the RN communications officer sailing with us was unable to understand. Our own radio officer spent long spells sending and receiving 1000 word cables."

95. Refrigerated stores ship Saxonia   96. Ammunition ship Lycaon
Other Merchant Ships
97. Freighter A.E.S.   98. US container ship Mormacsea

99. RAF Harrier GR3 fighter   100. RAF Phantom fighter
101. RAF Vulcan bomber   102. RAF Nimrod maritime reconnaissance
103. RAF Victor tanker   104. RAF Hercules C-130 transport
105. RAF Sea King   106. RAF Chinook
107. FAA Wessex
 (no enlargement)
108. RAF VC-10 passenger transport   109. Chartered civilian "Heavy Lift" transport
110. USAF C-5A transport   111. USAF C-141 transport
..... and Aircraft Movements
112. Local air defence Harrier GR.3's   113. ..... with the Vertrep Chinook
114. Harrier GR3's again   115. ..... and air defence Phantoms
116. Phantoms and Nimrod (54)   117. Nimrod
118. Vulcan   119. Phantoms, Vulcan, C-130 (203)
Following eight images show many of the aircraft types on the airfield at any one time, as well as C-130's and Victor's on the runway
120. C-130 (307)   121. C-130 (185)
122.   123.
124.   125.
126.   127.
More images of Victor tankers follow, with a total of eight in the sixth one
128.   129.
130.   131.
132.   133.
134.   135.
Above - more Victor landings  with USAF C-5A's and C-151's in parking area (also below)
136. C-5A unloading   137. C-5A with Harrier on runway
138. C-5A (00464)   139. C-5A about to take off
140. C-141 apparently taxiing   141. C-141
C-141's to Ascension
from Richard L. "Rich" Duwe, MSgt, USAF (Ret.)

To - My reason for writing is because I saw there were several pictures of a US Air Force C-141 Starlifter on the page, and I was curious if you knew the date the picture was taken. It's my understanding that the USAF had a regular mission that flew to Ascension Island twice monthly, so that may be one of those regularly scheduled missions. However, if the picture was taken during the Falklands War in or around the latter part of May, I suspect it was the plane I flew down there during that time.

While I am not at liberty to discuss the purpose of our mission, I can tell you that when we arrived at Ascension Island there was a faulted bus tie contactor on the #2 Main AC electrical bus. Our return flight was delayed while waiting for a decision on whether or not the aircraft was flyable. A day later it was determined that we could safely return to our home station at McGuire AFB, NJ. As I recall, when flew back empty, and the flight time was 11 hours and 45 minutes--the longest sortie I ever flew as a flight engineer.

From Bob Shackleton - Rich is correct with his dates, the C-141 (70011) photo was taken on Ascension during the Falklands crisis.

The MAC flight was our (South African staff of the South Atlantic Cable Company) quickest means of travelling to & from Ascension, it flew from Patrick AFB in Florida via Antigua in the West Indies to ASC and then onto Johannesburg. The other option was to fly by charter from UK to Ascension, only 4 or 5 flights a year. The BBC Cable & Wireless & CSO used to change their staff by this means.

(On one flight) my children (were) on the flightdeck during a trip back to ASC in Nov 1978. The crew were always very considerate and the children were allowed to spend time on the flight deck during the flight. We had the pleasure of doing the JHB-ASC return trip six times in the 5 years we spent on ASC.

To Bob Shackleton - Thanks for taking the time to research the dates on the C-141 pictures.  I rarely carried a camera during my time as a flight engineer, so it's nice to go out on the Web and relive the days of my youth through the photos of others.  I spent twenty years in the Air Force, and the three days I spent on Ascension Island during the Falklands crisis were the closest I ever came to being in an actual war.

To the best of my knowledge, our mission to Ascension is still classified, so I can't go into too much detail.  But I can tell you it started out as a presidential support mission.  Enroute to Washington,D.C. we were told the mission had changed, and we had to remove all the passenger seats when we arrived. From there, we flew with an empty cargo bay to NAS Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico where picked up a load of cargo and flew directly to Ascension Island.

Landing on a large rock in the middle of the ocean at night is bad enough, but we had to do it in the dark for security reasons.  The tower turned on the runway lights when we were less than a mile out, and then they immediately turned them off as soon as we cleared the runway.  Even the "Follow Me" truck was running with no lights.  From there we parked in the exact same spot where you photographed 70011.  I was afraid we might be stuck there for a few days with the electrical problem I described earlier, but we were quickly cleared to fly back to New Jersey the following day. I wonder why?

Normally any electrical problems of that nature would ground the aircraft.  Instead we had a quick radio conversation with the 21st Air Force command post staff who briefed us on what to do if we lost the #2 engine generator, and then we were back in the air. I suspect they didn't want the aircraft on the ground there any longer than necessary for political reasons, or perhaps because it made a rather large target!

I'm sorry to say that the entire C-141 fleet has been decommissioned and is being scrapped at this time.  Fortunately, a former C-141 pilot has setup a website dedicated to the Starlifter and what's become of what was once known as the "work horse" of the US Air Force.  Feel free to drop by if you have time.  It's located at .

As for the fate of 70011, I can only offer you this - Oddly enough, 70011 was one of the "Double Zero" series of C-141s that were rumored to be "jinxed" for some reason.  This small group of aircraft--all made in 1967--seemed to have a higher than average number of incidents for some reason.  One aircraft--70019--was supposedly haunted by the ghost of a crew chief who died on board the plane during a maintenance accident. 



Most of the images of individual ships and aircraft are low resolution, taken from the larger originals

from Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982

The movements of the ships and aircraft squadrons featured in these photographs can be traced week-by-week in the "Battle Atlas"


19. ASCENSION ISLAND - Stepping Stone to Victory (concluded)



British Forces Support Unit Ascension Island


Responsible for this array of activities was the Support Unit commanded by Capt R. McQueen (awarded CBE) RN. Involving all three services, some 1000 men, occasionally rising to 1500 did everything needed to support the Task Force, work the airfield in cooperation with the resident Americans and defend the island against possible attack by Argentine forces.



Summary of Main Roles





Surrounding area - Nimrod maritime reconnaisance aircraft from early April.

Local air defence - three Harrier GR.3's of 1(F) Sqdn from early May until relieved later in the month by three Phantom FGR.2's of 29(F) Sqdn.


RAF-manned mobile early warning radar on Green Mountain. 

Ground defence - HQ Unit, No.3 Wing and No.15 Field Sqdn, RAF Regiment. 

Other RAF Units - one 202 Sqdn Sea King and one 18 Sqdn Chinook helicopters for vertrep duties from early May.


Also air movements, mobile servicing, tactical communications and meteorological units.


ARMY included:

Royal Corps of Signals
- established rear link Communications Centres for the Task Force. 

Royal Engineers - constructed 3 mile fuel pipeline system to the airfield along with 180,000 gallon bulk fuel storage, and a desalination plant.

Royal Army Ordnance Corps - operated the pipeline system capable of delivering up to 300,000 gallons each day.

Royal Corps of Transport - 47 Air Despatch Squadron prepared stores for air dropping.



Naval Party 1222
- arrived in early April to receive men, stores, equipment, and helicopters flown out from Britain and to arrange for transhipment south.

Fleet Air Arm - maintenance personnel prepared the arriving helicopters

No.845 NAS - one Wessex HU.5 of D Flt, provided vertrep and crossdeck delivery services together with the two RAF helicopters which arrived later.



Internet version of Ascension Island's only newspaper, The Islander


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revised  5/12/10