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HMS Antelope - May 22nd / May 23rd 1982

HMS Antelope (F170) was a Type 21 frigate of the Royal Navy that participated in the Falklands War. Her keel was laid down March 23, 1971 by Vosper Thornycroft in Woolston. She was commissioned July 17, 1975. She was the only unit of the class never to be fitted with Exocet launchers.

The San Carlos frigates launched strikes, Argonaut's Lynx attempted a Sea Skua missile attack on the Rio Carcarana but was thwarted by technical problems. Antelope's flight then attacked the same target, firing two Sea Skuas, both of which hit the ship. The unloading of the stores ship was carried out with little interruption. The Stromness had brought equipment intended for assembly as GR3 landing pads which the Royal Engineers wasted no time in putting it together. Bridgehead consolidated with 5,000 troops dug in. HMS Antelope flew off her Lynx to investigate the extent of damage inflicted on the Rio Carcarana. As the Lynx returned it was overflown by four Skyhawks and the pilot broadcast a warning of the raid. Consequently , Broadsword, Antelope and Yarmouth were ready and the first pair of Skyhawks were turned back. The second pair selected Antelope and Broadsword, Premier Teniente L Guadagnini pressed home his attack on the Antelope despite being hit by 20mm fire and scored a direct hitSteward Mark Stevens.Staff Sergeant James Prescott about six feet above the water line on the starboard side of the frigate, below the hangar. The Skyhawk collided with the main mast, blew up and fell into the water. Another Skyhawk attacked unnoticed from Antelope's port and put another bomb into her port side. Both bombs had failed to exploded, one was in Antelope's Air Conditioning Unit and the second in her Petty Officers Mess, Antelope lost one man, Steward Mark R. Stephens, and one was seriously injured.

Later in the day the Antelope moved up San Carlos Water near the Fearless. The casualty was moved to the field hospital and two Royal Engineers bomb disposal experts came on board. The first attempts to defuse the bomb unsuccessful. The men decided to use a small defusing charge. As they walked back to examine the results, the bomb exploded Staff Sargent Prescott was killed instantly, Warrant Officer Phillips left arm was badly injured. Staff Sergeant Prescott was awarded a posthumous Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.

HMS Antelope's magazines exploding.HMS Antelope.The ship was torn open from water line to funnel, with the blast starting major fires in both engine rooms which spread very quickly. The starboard fire main was fractured, the ship lost all electrical power, and the commanding officer, Commander Nick Tobin, gave the order to abandon ship. Tobin was the last person to leave the ship, and about five minutes after his departure, the missile magazines began exploding. The explosion started a number of fires, as she burned the ship blazed white hot and was abandoned by her 175 crew.

Explosions continued throughout the night, and the following day Antelope was found to be still afloat, but her keel had broken and her superstructure melted into a heap of twisted metal. Antelope broke in half and sank on May 24th 1982.

Read the Board of Inquiry report into the loss of HMS Antelope.