Falklands 1982

Falklands War: 40 years on from the sinking of SS Atlantic Conveyor

On 25 May 1982, the merchant marine container was hit and sank three days later with 10 helicopters on board.

Following Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, a naval task force was ordered to sail across the Atlantic and take the islands back.

Three weeks into the conflict, on 21 May, under threat from enemy warplanes, British forces came ashore in Carlos Water and commanding officer Ivar Hellberg's regiment quickly established a brigade support area in Ajax Bay.

"Once we got ashore, we realised we didn't have air superiority," he told Forces News. "These ships were very vulnerable so we had to run all the stocks ashore into Ajax Bay.

Watch: How British troops first landed to retake the Falklands.

"But… when we started to lose ships and, after the first day's bombing in Ajax Bay, we realised that these ships were far too vulnerable and they had to get out.

"So we had to offload as quickly as we possibly could, but we were not able at night time to offload everything, we just couldn't do it," he said.

Over several days, British Navy ships were attacked in what was known as Bomb Alley and, on 25 May, SS Atlantic Conveyor, a merchant marine container ship, was hit. She sank three days later with 10 vital helicopters on board.

"When I heard, I thought 'oh my God, this is awful'," he said.

He explained that of the heavy lift Chinook helicopters that were aboard Atlantic Conveyor, one managed to get off, which was "wonderful and hugely useful".

"My goodness, with the other helicopters, how much easier it would have been," he said.