The Duchess of Gloucester has today attended the reunion of the Falklands Frigate HMS Ardent Association to remember the loss of HMS Ardent in 1982.
Birgitte joined over 200 survivors from HMS Ardent, which fought in the Falklands, and the families of the 22 fallen who served on HMS Drake Plymouth. The reunion marked the 35th anniversary of HMS Ardent’s sinking during the 1982 conflict, and the HMS Ardent Association has met in Plymouth every year for the occasion.
HMS Ardent was a Type 21 Frigate, that was based in Devonport. On 19th April 1982, HMS Ardent sailed from Plymouth for the Falkland Islands. En route, she escorted taskforce ships that had departed late. On 21st May 1982, whilst lying in Falkland Sound and supporting Operation Sutton by bombarding the Argentine airstrip at Goose Green, Ardent was attacked by at least three waves of Argentine aircraft. The air strikes resulted in the sinking of Ardent the following day and the subsequent loss of 22 members from the 199 crew who later abandoned ship onto HMS Yarmouth.
— Ardent Association (@hmsardent) May 21, 2017
The Duchess of Gloucester launched the Frigate in May 1975, and has been the sponsor of the ship, and later the HMS Ardent Association, ever-since. She has attended all of the association’s key anniversary commemorations and in 2015, the Duchess led the dedication ceremony for the HMS Ardent Association Anchor Memorial, which is situated within the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Joining the Duchess at today’s ceremony were cadets from T.S. Ardent, which is part of the Bollington & Macclesfield Sea Cadets group, who have been associated with the HMS Ardent Association since 1982.
— Chairman RNRMRS (@cathie247) May 21, 2017
The Association was established immediately after the war, in a hope to promote the ship, and provide “a focal point to remember fallen crew-mates.” The present president of the association is Admiral The Lord West of Spithead who was the Commanding officer of HMS Ardent in the 1982 Falklands War and was First Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy from 2002 until 2006. The Lord West was the last to leave the sinking ship and was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his leadership. The DSC is awarded for “gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea.”
The Association’s founders, Len Yeatman and Tony Ray, said that the original idea for the Association was to be a point of contact for the ship’s company. However, they did not expect the association to be one of the strongest to emerge from the 1982 Falklands conflict, and for Plymouth to remain as such an important part of the survivor’s lives.