The Naval Institute blog has the story of an interesting, little know aspect of the Falkands War (1982), that showed a remarkable level of civility, referred to as the Red Cross Box.
An area north of the Falklands was identified where hospital ships of both Britain and Argentina would be stationed. While fierce fighting was going on in Falklands Sound and ashore at Goose Green, four British and two Argentinian ships maintained close contact and exchanged wounded and medical supplies. Its a short read, definitely worth the time.
Most of the ships involved could easily have been Coast Guard. The primary British hospital ship was a converted liner, SS Uganda, 14,430 gross registered tons, but the other three HMS Hecla, Herald, and Hydra were Hydrographic survey ships, 259′ over all, and 2,945 tons full load, a little smaller than 378s. The Argentine Hospital ships were an icebreaker, ARA Almirante Irizar, similar in size to the Polar Star/Polar Sea, and the smaller polar transport ARA Bahia Paraiso, 435′ and 9,600 tons full load.
This short history of HMS Hydra’s participation hit home. The story of hasty improvisation and the sacrifices of the crew will sound familiar to many.
Photo: ARA Almirante Irízar wearing hospital ship colors during Falklands War.