Some thirty former crew members of Swift-sure Class nuclear submarine HMS Spartan gathered at the war memorial in Sunderland’s Mowbray Park, county of Durham, and paid their respects to fellow Falklands War heroes who did not make it home.
HMS Spartan was the first submarine to serve in the Falklands conflict having arrived on 12 April 1982, preparing the way for the Task Force that followed. Spartan was also the first to begin imposing the Falkland Islands 200 miles maritime exclusion zone and on May first she was marking the Argentine air carrier ARA 25 de Mayo, but never received the OK from Northwood to proceed.
Crew members came from all over the UK, and overseas, to be in Sunderland, and a very special guest was the submarine’s captain, Captain James “Buck” Taylor.
Peter George Malone who flew in from Canada described Captain Buck as “an incredible leader and submarine skipper who skillfully brought his crew home safe”, adding: “We remain in his debt to this day.” HMS Spartan returned to Plymouth on 24 June 1982.
We were so proud to host this event in the North East and to bring old submarine buddies to meet friends and families in the North,” added Dougie Mac MacAlister, another former submariner. It was a very special time not just for the two local lads but for those who served on Spartan during the conflict”.
“Spartan played an active role with the rest of the fleet throughout the conflict,” pointed out Peter.
The two Veterans said they “thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the return of Spartan those 40 years ago by meeting on the anniversary date and laying a wreath to lost mates from Spartan and all those who never returned from the Falklands”.
The event was even more poignant as it was held on Armed Forces Day. After the ceremony, the former crew mates got together to share ‘a few pints and many stories over the weekend’, said Peter.
Unlike HMS Conqueror which sank the Argentine cruiser ARA Manuel Belgrano, Spartan did not fire in anger during the Falklands war, though she did provide valuable reconnaissance to the British Task Force on Argentine aircraft movement.
HMS Spartan was launched in 1978 and decommissioned in 2006.