Aviation History

The “Other” HMS Endurance: the Royal Navy Ice Patrol Vessel that during the Falklands War escaped harm from Argentina’s Navy until reinforcements arrived before helping recapture South Georgia

Armed with only a pair of 20mm AA guns, small arms, and missiles for her Wasp Helicopters, Barker managed to turn HMS Endurance into a combat helicopter platform and photo-spy ship.

As images of the wreck of Shackleton’s Endurance being discovered are shared around the world, the story of another Endurance resonates, especially given that the 40th anniversary of another conflict approaches. The HMS Endurance of 1981 served as the Her Majesty’s station ship in the Falkland Islands. This Endurance served an amazing career during the Falklands Conflict with Argentina, and her story immediately prewar was clearly illustrated in a Pebble Mill Documentary made the year before of the Falklands War.

The documentary links below shows the perils of Antarctic Exploration even in the early 1980s. Captain Nicholas Barker, who ably led her both in exploration and War, makes an appearance and his competence as an officer is clearly shown. When the Falklands War began, Captain Barker managed to keep his ship hidden from Argentinian forces, communicating via satellite while hiding his bright red vessel amidst ice floes while awaiting reinforcements from the UK.

Endurance’s Royal Marine Detachment, left on South Georgia, managed to shoot down an Argentinian Puma Assault Helicopter, and damage an Argentinian Naval vessel with their anti-tank weaponry before surrendering to the overwhelming force of the Argentinian amphibious assault on South Georgia, where Shackleton’s grave still lies.

Armed with only a pair of 20mm AA guns, small arms, and missiles for her Wasp Helicopters, Barker managed to turn his ship into a combat helicopter platform and photo-spy ship, all while keeping his crew alive without casualties. His plan in the event of confrontation with Argentinian Naval forces was to ram any tanker they had with them in order to inflict maximum damage against the enemy war effort. Endurance herself managed to escape harm from Argentina’s Navy until reinforcements arrived before serving as one of the vessels which managed to help recapture South Georgia. Her Wasp Helicopter assisted in the sinking of the Argentinian Submarine Santa Fe, in Grytvken harbour, South Georgia. She also managed to assist in the recapture of South Thule Island, one of the last actions of the Falklands War.

The final surrender of the war, in the South Sandwich Islands, took place aboard Endurance.

In spite of all this success, Captain Barker was put to pasture postwar, retiring as only a Captain due to his continued opposition to Thatcher’s prewar Defence Minister John Nott’s decision to retire Endurance as a cost saving measure immediately before the War. Barker’s opposition was based on the vast resources of both the Falklands and South Georgia, as the Exclusive Economic Zones of those islands and their importance as staging posts for the British Antarctic territory which are home to vast potential resources, including the possibility of substantial petroleum reserves that have the potential to provide a substantial financial windfall for the government and people of the United Kingdom, and the islanders themselves.

HMS Endurance, Langley South Part 1. Ignore the messed up beginning, that is likely bad VCR Tape. To Deception Island Prewar.

HMS Endurance, Langley South Part 2 To Sir James Ross Island, with a re-enactment by Endurance 1981’s crew of Endurance 1915’s harrowing adventure.

War Stories, Captain Barker Postwar, at his reunion party aboard Endurance, visiting the Falklands, showing the Governor General of the Falklands. Lieutenant Keith Mills, Royal Marines is also there to tell his amazing story. A viewer to this will also get a glimpse of the unique species of Whitehall Office Mole that made the type of decisions which ultimately cost thousands of lives. Lord Shackleton also makes an appearance, he is a direct descendant of Shackleton the Great of the Original Endurance just discovered.

Be sure to check out William Cobb’s Facebook Page Pensacola Aerospace Museum for awesome aviation’s photos and stories.

Photo credit: ©1988 K. Krallis, SV1XV via Wikipedia

William Cobb

Mr. William Cobb is a licensed Instrument Flight Instructor in Single and Multi Engine Airplanes who is the founder and director of the Pensacola Aerospace Museum. Mr. Cobb spent from 2008 to 2015 instructing for the U.S. Navy's Initial Flight Screening program. After 8 years of full time Flight Instruction, Mr. Cobb started his own Commercial Drone Business, obtaining the first FAA Part 107 certification in his FAA region. Subsequent Drone work led to his becoming involved in Film Production work, and his establishing the Pensacola Aerospace Museum, an entity dedicated to honoring the memory of all those who ever gave their lives to flight.

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