28/03/82 - 09/04/82

HMS Brilliant passing Plymouth Breakwater on way to Exercise Springtrain

Taken From Navy News – May 1982

Many of the ships in the Falkland Islands Task Force had been taking part in the Royal Navy’s largest annual exercise – Exercise Springtrian at Gibraltar – when Argentina invaded the British territories.
When the complete exercise force assembled in the Rock’s naval base at the end of March there was a total of 18 British frigates and destroyers, two submarines and six Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.

Also involved were two American frigates, US navy Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft, Buccaneers of Stroke Command’s 12 Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, and Nimrod maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft.

Thirteen RN warships steamed into Gibraltar in two line-ahead formations on March 24 to start the harbour training phase of Springtrain. Leading one of the formations was HMS Antrim in which Flag Officer First Flotilla, Rear-Admiral J. F. Woodward, flew his flag. The exercise was later attended by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, whose flagship was HMS Glamorgan.

The ships undertook a variety of high-seas firing in the Eastern Atlantic and Western Mediterranean, and were due back in the United Kingdom in the first week of April when they were ordered to the Southern Atlantic.

During the week-end that the ships were in Gibraltar an intensive sports Olympiad was held involving all the ships’ companies. HMS Glamorgan won the Maxi-Ship Cup, HMS Plymouth the Midi competition, 12 Squadron carried off the Mini-Ship trophy, and lads of HMS Rooke won the Top of the Rock Race.


First ship’s team to the top of the Rock was that of HMS Battleaxe, and the first three individuals to finish were WEM McCartney (HMS Coventry), WEM Perez (HMS Ariadne) and MEM Barrowclough (HMS Antrim).

Photo John D Henry                                HMS Battleaxe steaming alongside HMS Brilliant 82 Springtrain

Photo John D Henry                                          HMS Battleaxe astern of Brilliant and Broadsword

Flight Log


HMS Brilliant Flight was reinforced by HMS Avenger Flight for Exercise SPRINGTRAIN 82 during HMS AVENGER’s DED. The second flight embarked on 16 Mch and completed the the initial phase of SPRINGTRAIN before the visit to Gibraltar on 24-28 MCH.

Photo Pete Reeves                                          Brilliant Broadsword Coventry Sheffield Springtrain 82

Photo Will Daley                                                                           Springtrain alongside in Gibraltar

26/03/82 (Bill)

Gibraltar Exercise Springtrain 

Alongside in Gibraltar at the end of exercise Springtrain. Ran up the rock with 250 other blokes came about 50th, Swany came 5th. Lamb kebabs red wine and movies at the fire station JC,s ,sat outside a pub opposite the governors residence. 60 odd blokes brought back to ship by shore patrol.

Swany Kirk Gib Rock Run

Photo Will Daley                                                                                                 Gib Harbour

Photo Bill Oddy                                                                                   Alongside HMS Sheffield

Photo Bill Oddy                                                                                  Leaving Gib for the South Atlantic

01/04/82 (Bill)

0400 Lat 35° 30′ 42 N  Long 009° 42′ 39 W  15Knots  283°  Sea State 3247.04 miles Told heading home 48 Hours notice

Photo Kirk                                                             Rendezvous with Battleaxe and stole her weapons and stores 

Flight Log


Whilst BRILLIANT was completing the final stages of Exercise SPRINGTRAIN in the Gibraltar Exercise area, the Argentinians invaded the Falkland Islands.

The following ships were nominated to comprise the ‘Spearhead Group’ and ordered to sail South: HMS GLAMORGAN (CTU 317.8), HMS ANTRIM, SHEFFIELD,COVENTRY, GLASGOW,BRILLIANT, ARROW and PLYMOUTH. Throughout that first day of Operation Corporate all ships carried out replenishment by all means available, BRIULLIANT supplied by BATTLEAXE. Vertreps played a key role, with both Lynx flying almost continuously in support of both BRILLIANT and many other units.

Photo John D Henry                                                     Brilliant receiving stores from Battleaxe

02/04/82 (Bill)

0400  Lat 35° 28′ 64N   Long 010° 00 ’77 W  1Knots 200° Sea State 2294.06 miles.

Informed Heading South. Swapped stores with Battleaxe. 70 Days rations and ammo. 40-60 Ammo in alcove on flag deck. 3? rockets lashed in front of engine room air intakes on upper deck. Sea Wolf missiles stacked in crates along passageway on 1 deck, launchers filled. Total of 80 missiles.

Photo Bill                                                                                                         Randy in Dhoby rig

03/04/82 (Bill)

0400 Lat 33° 32′ 68 N Long 012°27’12 W 7Knots 210° Sea State 2 427.98 miles
04.57 Rig Merchant Lights
10.00 SAG procedure with Coventry
11.07 RAZ with Tidespring
20.27 Tanker lighting switched on 10.30

Now closed up at specials razzing avcat, lub oil and fuel. Buzz going round SBS and paratroopers being sent to Falklands Were going 4000 miles to the Ascension islands to wait for the carriers + Sir Gerrard and the fearless. Lads in the mess exited but nervous full implications have not yet hit due to the uncertainty of future I think. Chris who’s getting married the only one who seems slightly quieter. Skipper said yesterday he’s going to give us the rundown every day sometime. Trying to analyse my own thoughts I want to go, the excitement stopping me worrying about death or rather the possibility of.

Went to the ops room this morning saw my mate whose an RP and asked him what ships they have, (2) 42s, a small number of diesel electric subs, some old yank destroyers and the old Courageous aircraft carrier 30+ years old. The (2) 42s seem to be the only headache unless the Argentineans get backing from anybody else.

I have this urge to write a diary, which I have never before its strange (might do something with it in the years to come, depending on the next four months of events) I hope my mum dad Julie and grandparents don’t worry too much although I know they will. To finish off this entry I will describe my job, when closed up at specials I sit on the plates of the AAMR with the Stb Aft stabilizer unit behind me the Stb Tyne gas turbine to the left and the gearbox just fwd. I have a headset on which I can listen to the conversations between the bridge and the Ship Control Centre. My job is to take control of the pitch of the propeller in the case of loss of control in the SCC, I make a switch in the stab corner run down to the cpp pump depress a wheel and lock it with a pin this gives me local control of the pitch yahoo (not the most exiting of jobs), plenty of time to think if you can above the noise.

Maggie is having a cabinet meeting at 11 to decide what to do; from down here unless something drastic happens there is a distinct possibility of war.

We have 70 days rations so we have our — 2 dollops of spuds 1 veg 1 meat dish or fish + soup for lunch breakfast 1 rasher of bacon 1 egg beans or tomato dinner same as lunch without soup easily enough to live on although the NAFFI is doing a roaring trade on biscuits gofers have been rationed to two per man per day.

The Battleaxe set off last night back to Guz, when they are aloud they will send a telegram to our next of kin and later post a letter explaining our predicament (they cheered us yesterday) I’m in the IS platoon which means this next week we have fast ropeing  exercises from the sea wolf deck to the flight deck in our full kit + rifles (jumping out of helicopters is not what I joined up for especially if I get shot at the other end of the rope.)

16.31  311084 N 144943W
Dodging Russian merchant ships. Torpedo loading crews practicing, spent the afternoon with the chippy and Reg briers making a gun platform for the LMG on the helicopter (aluminium angle iron and a swivel chair seat) now an exhibit in the imperial war museum

19.32  302281 N 151033W
Buzz going round that in the event of a battle nuke would take out their carrier

Skipper just told us after listening on the SRE to the commons debate feeling of country is that armed action should be taken against the Argentineans, as such the whole fleet is sailing. Invincible 10.15 Monday, Fearless morning of Wednesday on one boiler (problem of air cover to be solved interesting to find out how). Mess is definitely more subdued attitude than yesterday. The Argentineans have only 18 ships to be really worried about, 2 of which are Type 42?s the same as ours . A number of the others are fitted with exocet ,so a few of us getting jobbed is a distinct possibility.
This is not all that good news as have been detached to go to the Falkland Islands for how long I have no idea. The above number is the skipper’s wife. The skipper said that you can ring her to find out if there is any news but the newspapers know more than we do at the present time. Its winter down there now but should have a bit of bronzing as we go past the equator (big deal).
It should be too bad as long as the Argentineans don’t start firing anything at us.
To put it mildly I’m romft, I joined the navy to see the sea but they could have sent us down after Easter leave. I don’t know if we will get any mail or be able to send it after this but if we do you will some of the longest mailings ever.
PS Last night we were told that we were going back to guz at 7 this morning were told were not

04/04/82 Bill

0400 Lat 28° 24′ 21N Long 017° 27′ 46W  15Knots  040° Sea State  2348.86 miles 


Land sighted N coast of Tenerife11.00 Lower sea boat captain to Coventry12.35 recover sea boat with captain

5/04/82 Bill
0400 Lat 23° 43′ 04N Long 012° 27′ 12W 15 Knots 040° Sea State 2
17.30 smell of burning in the ops room standing fire party mustered
Sat on the focsle at 8 o’clock . The last rays of the sun facing me the moon behind already high in the sky.
Well where do I start? A lot has been going on over the past few days. War looks like a distinct possibility, not boogaloo at all. Hopefully these rascals as the skipper called them will come to there senses and decide it’s not worth taking us on. Then we can all go home with nice sun tans. You should know as much about the situation as me as most of our information comes from world service. There are quite a few people who are looking slightly nervous though the future doesn’t look too tactivealy (not sure on the spelling here) grim. Needless to say the weather is fantastic since we have passed the Tropic of Capricorn. I saw my first flying fish, amazing creatures they fly like sparrows a few inches above the waves for quite long distances. I haven’t heard them chirping though. This should reach by the 16th as mail is going off when we get to Ascension Island. We should receive some as well after that I have no idea, but please keep writing on the off chance. We have had a lot of work painting everything that’s white grey and making machine gun mountings for the LMG’s on the bridge wings and both helicopters. Still no idea when we sail back it all depends on the situation. My feelings on going there to fight are nervous obviously but when I joined up I knew what signing that piece of paper meant so I can’t drip. Unless the Argentineans back down our holiday in the south of France looks dodgy so it is just as well I insured it against pusser’s whims.

05/04/82 (Bill)
07.59 221518N 193262W
Sat on the focsle for half an hour. Did first of our damage control exercises, 2 hours every day until everybody knows everybody else’s job. Fleets left Pompey. Air superiority seems to be biggest headache. Their Mirages could make mincemeat out of our harriers ,also with the 24 pod rocket launchers fire them all at once and take out one of our ships. Sea Wolf would not handle it. Destruction of airfields on Falklands imperative.(if its a suitable strip for fighters) This would mean they would have to fly from Argentina , giving them only 5-10 minutes to find targets. Also carrier will have to be taken out. Found out that their exocet does not have over the horizon targeting. Everything on the upper deck white being painted grey. Randy in a sour mood.
Looking forward to getting back.
A nice cloudy windy day with the Coventry across to port practising flashing lights. Temperature must still be in the 70?s. Job for the afternoon is to unscrew the plates in the after sewage treatment compartment, grease the screws and put them back. (in the case of damage have to get the plates up quickly)

13.12 201335N 191376W 13 knots

Just completed a talk and demonstration of the once only survival suit , life jacket and how to survive in a life raft

20.06 201335N 191376W


Photo Bill                                                                                                              Survival at sea

06/04/82 (Bill)

0400 Lat 18° 32′ 08N Long 019° 23′ 36 W 20Knots 040° Sea State 3
390.54 miles

A hazy morning looks like it’s going to be a scorcher ,damage control training 08.30-09.30 Razzing with Tidespring and with Coventry after that. (light jackstay) 07.30-08.00 This morning Coventry firing star shells above us from her Mk 8 4.5? gun, for the Sea Wolf to track. Morale seems to be reasonably high , mind you who could be depressed in weather like this . Fast Roping exercises have not materialised which is good news. Saw my first flying fish today, amazing creatures Didn’t realise they flew like sparrows all be it a foot or so above the waves relatively short distances.


0400 Lat 12° 45′ 41N Long 019° 43′ 05 W 05 Knots 040° Sea State

362.79 miles
The first time I have seen the sun directly overhead at 14 minutes past one today, stacks of old UV’s, the foscle was 112 so you get cooked both sides. Been told were going to action stations at dawn dusk and 9 o’clock in the morning every day after Sunday, a real morale booster.

09/04/82 (Bill)
00 Lat 03° 00′ 06N Long 017° 36′ 16W 03 Knots 145° Sea State 1
19.10 crossed the equator
300.8 miles 13.15
Past over the equator, morale down a bit blockade starting Monday probably war Been told mail is likely to be censored after Ascension is by somebody onboard instead of a nobody ashore. Once the rest of the fleet catch us up it will be battle formation down towards the Falklands. I’ll have to get this tooth fixed on Ascension Island 6 aspirins a day is no good. This heat is great apart from a suntan it clears your skin up Been thinking up some ideas as to what I will do when I get home (Easter leave Summer leave on draft should add up to about 7 weeks) Hope Julie can get some time off. Take her home maybe go camping in the Lake District as long as it’s not to late in the year.

Passed the equator today at a quarter past one (not even a bump). After Ascension Island mail is likely to be censored, not by some nobody back home but by some! —–!? Onboard which for some reason makes me furious maybe because I’m in an aggressive mood. It’s interesting to see the way people react in stress situations. I have come to the conclusion that some are idiots who I would never trust if it came to the crunch. I am being sour, trying to show my feelings towards the world in general more than individuals. Still couldn’t let myself have a sense of humour failure. Still no gen on when I get back but the general opinion is July/august time.

Course 2/4/82 – 10/04/82

Flight Log


As diplomatic efforts continued in an attempt to solve the crisis,  material preparations for war began. Ships were instructed practice techniques and operations specific to the expected Argentinian threat: With a lack of fixed- wing aircraft and submarines , these were concentrated on surface actions  (OTHT, surface reporting, Chaff Hotel techniques etc ). Within the ship ground training progressed woth threat lectures, weapon familiarisation. NBCD practices and the construction of the Lynx interim GPMG mounting.