Royal Navy sailors and BAE Systems apprentices recently welcomed Falkland veterans to BAE Systems’ Glasgow shipyard where the first Type 26 frigate, HMS Glasgow, is currently under construction.
The 44 veterans, all of whom served on the previous HMS Glasgow which saw action during the Falklands, visited the shipyard on April 9, just days after the fortieth anniversary of the start of the conflict in 1982.
Many of the visiting veterans were from The HMS Glasgow Association and they were joined by Rear Admiral (Retired) Paul Hoddinott, who commanded HMS Glasgow during the Falklands, as well as two other former Commanding Officers, Commodore (Retired) Dick Twitchen and Commander (Ret’d) Alistair Ireland.
“It has been a fantastic opportunity to celebrate these veterans who enjoy a special link with HMS Glasgow,” explained Commander Mark Quinn, the Weapon Engineering Officer with the new Type 26 HMS Glasgow.
“To be able to offer them a glimpse of the next generation Type 26 frigate and the capabilities that it will afford the Royal Navy, particularly in this 40th anniversary year of the Falklands conflict, has really made it a day to remember.”
The Falklands conflict lasted 74 days and saw seven Royal Navy ships, nine aircraft and some 225 UK military personnel lost to enemy action.
Among the ships which participated was the Destroyer HMS Glasgow. On May 12, 1982, she and fellow Royal Navy vessel HMS Brilliant came under attack from Argentine Skyhawk aircraft.
Although HMS Brilliant’s Sea Wolf missile system shot down the first wave of aircraft, a second saw a bomb damage HMS Glasgow. Although it failed to explode, the bomb passed through the ship’s hull disabling two of her engines and leaving a large hole.
President of the HMS Glasgow Association, Gary Easton, was a Marine Engineering Mechanic onboard the ship during the attack. On May 12 he was in his usual place in the After Auxiliary Machinery Room.
“The bomb entered the ship starboard side and travelled through the engine room on the port side, holing us just above the water line,” said Gary.
“I didn’t know what had happened at the time. I came to and found myself lying on the plates between two diesel generators.”
His training kicking in, Gary quickly inspected the space finding the large hole behind the port distilling plant.
“I thought – ‘I’m not supposed to see daylight and water there’,” said Gary. “It soon dawned on me the reason why!”
Gary and the crew got to work temporarily plugging the hole with pieces of timber and mattresses allowing HMS Glasgow to stay afloat until she could sail for repairs. It wasn’t until afterwards that it hit home how close he had come to losing his life.
“Someone presented me with a valve which had flown through the air and penetrated the bulkhead between two spaces. It had landed at the spot where I normally operated,” he said.
Gary continued: “On behalf of myself and the HMS Glasgow Association I would like to thank the ship’s company and BAE Systems for inviting us to visit the ship. Special thanks go to Warrant Officer Cowey, Commander Burgess and Commander Quinn for this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The Falklands-era HMS Glasgow was a far cry from the modern warship currently under construction at BAE Systems’ shipyard. During the visit, the Association members had the opportunity to hear about the next generation capabilities that will make the new Type 26 one of the most formidable frigates in the fleet.
One of those who enjoyed the tour of the shipyard was Commander Ian Danbury. In 1982 he was an Officer under Training onboard HMS Glasgow.
“Forty years ago, HMS Glasgow became part of the remarkable history of the Falklands conflict and today, myself, and about 40 members of that 1982 ship’s company, are privileged to see the new Glasgow take shape at Govan,” said Ian.
“For all of us who sailed and fought in the old HMS Glasgow this has been a very rewarding experience.
“The city of Glasgow is special to us for the outstanding support her people gave to the old HMS Glasgow throughout her commission and especially during the Falklands conflict. Visiting the new ship and her newly formed Ship’s Company has been especially poignant.”
He continued: “We all feel that the name HMS Glasgow will be in good hands as she takes shape and joins the Fleet. She proudly wears the Battle Honor ‘Falkland Islands 1982’ that we each had some small part in creating.”
The highlight of the visit was when the veterans got up close to the new HMS Glasgow which is being worked on by BAE Systems’ expert engineering staff at the Govan shipyard.
“It is an honor to host Falkland veterans, many of whom served in the previous HMS Glasgow,” said Sir Simon Lister, BAE Systems, Naval Ships Managing Director.
“Events such as this, where we are reminded of the risks the men and women of the Royal Navy take on our behalf, strengthens our resolve to deliver the next generation platforms and technologies that contribute to our national security and enable the Royal Navy to protect what matters most.”
The Type 26 frigate HMS Glasgow is the first of the City Class vessels currently under construction for the Royal Navy.
Although the new HMS Glasgow’s main roles are anti-submarine warfare and air defence operations, the flexible, modular design of the Type 26s mean that they can perform several roles, including maritime security, humanitarian and disaster relief, as well as counter-piracy and counter-terrorism missions.