Preparing for war

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“It was the time of the Nott Review ... one of the Commanders went from being told he was being made redundant on one day, to the next day being told he had to bring his ship out of refit to go to war at 3 days notice ... "

Commander David Hobbs

Everything from Sea Wolf to Mars Bars

It was vitally important to assemble the Task Force quickly. This sent a political message to Argentina and ensured that the Navy could blockade the islands before the start of the southern winter. Dockyards made a huge effort to despatch ships by 5 April. Workers fuelled, stored, modified and loaded ammunition over a weekend. Many sailors rushed back from Easter leave to be ready to sail.

Ships came to the Task Force from all around the world. Those already on exercise ‘Spring Train’ in the Mediterranean loaded ‘everything from Sea Wolf to Mars Bars’ and headed south.

Dockyards in Gibraltar, Plymouth and Rosyth prepared ships. In Portsmouth HMS Hermes was shrouded in scaffolding, and HMS Invincible was correcting operational defects. Their departure within 3 days was remarkable and took place despite plans to reduce the Portsmouth Dockyard workforce from nearly 7 000 to just 1 200.

Photograph of men training on board SS Canberra
Photograph of men training on SS Canberra (RMM)

As the Task Force sailed many aboard did not expect to fight. After all, Argentina had bought ships from British shipbuilders and sent naval personnel to Britain for training. However, during the long journey south men trained and practised routines in case the worst did happen.