The Red Cross Box

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.

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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.

Britain’s New Antarctic Patrol Vessel, HMS Protector

3rd Street Promenade
The British are using unconventional means to provide for their need for a patrol vessel capable of operating in ice including patrols in the vicinity of the Falklands and supporting their Antarctic survey stations. They are taking a three year lease on an existing Norwegian vessel that has been used to support the oil industry. Additional modifications are planned including boats and weapons.
“Completed in 2001 and displacing 4,985 tons, she can act as a polar research ship or subsea support vessel, and has 100 berths.”
HMS Protector is filling an unexpected gap in their capabilities after accidental flooding almost sank the previous ice patrol vessel HMS Endurance in December 2008.