On 25 May 1982, the Atlantic Conveyor a support vessel of the Task Force sent to recover the Falkland Islands was struck, and sank, by two Exocet missiles fired by Argentine aircraft. The Cunard owned vessel was registered in Liverpool and the city will commemorate the 40th anniversary, which cost the lives of twelve people.
At the time, Cunard formed part of a consortium owning and operating the Atlantic Conveyor and her sister Atlantic Causeway, which was also deployed in the Task Force, with Cunard crew volunteering to sail and serve on each ship.
Atlantic Conveyor served as a logistics support vessel transporting aircraft, aircrew and supplies to the war zone and sailed from its homeport of Liverpool. She was to be the first British merchant navy loss in conflict since WW2. Cargo included helicopters, six Westland Wessexes, three Chinooks and a Lyunx, all lost but one Chinook and one Wessex. The loss of these helicopters meant that British troops had to march on foot across the Falklands to take Stanley.
Referring to the commemoration Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councilor Mary Rasmussen said, ”Liverpool has a proud history of playing a key role in supporting all of our Armed Forces during conflicts, and the Falklands was no exception.
“The 40th anniversary of the attack on the Atlantic Conveyor is an opportunity for us to reflect on the selfless sacrifice made by the Cunard crew who volunteered to be part of the mission, as well as the Merchant Navy personnel who lost their lives.
“Even though this tragedy took place four decades ago, conflicts and wars remain an ever-present danger.”
Speaking for Cunard, Senior Vice-president Angus Struthers said that “service to the nation is embedded in Cunard’s 182-year timeline. Our ships – and their crews who volunteered to sail on them – as part of the South Atlantic Task Force 40 years ago, played a significant part in the Falklands Campaign.
“The attack on the Liverpool ship Atlantic Conveyor on 25 May 1982, and its loss with six Cunard crew and six service personnel was the first sinking of a British Merchant ship in action since World War 2. It is entirely fitting that we return to the Conveyor’s homeport, and Cunard’s spiritual home at Liverpool, to mark this important anniversary of lives lost in service.”
The commemoration in Liverpool takes place on Wednesday 25 May and will also recognize the wider role of the Merchant Navy in the South Atlantic Task Force.
At 9:15am, a service will take place at the Merchant Navy Memorial at the Pier Head, led by the Rector of Liverpool, the Reverend Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, attended by the Lord Mayor, civic dignitaries and representatives from Atlantic Container Line, Cunard, the South Atlantic Medal Association and the Falklands Islands government.Later, at 10:30am, a Service of Remembrance will take place at Liverpool Parish Church, and at the Atlantic Conveyor Memorial outside the church.