Andrew Lockett – Trustee and Treasurer 2005 to date
I took over the treasurer’s task in 2005 from a neighbour of mine, Rick Jolly. I have seen the organization transformed from an unregulated members’ club to a registered charity and a charitable company. It is now backed by a reliable income, healthy reserves and a governance system that achieves highly on the compliance scale for such organisations.
I trained as an electrical engineer with British Rail and then became a high voltage transmission engineer with the Central Electricity Generating Board. I joined the Royal Navy in 1972 and first served at the Apprentice Training School HMS Fisgard.
As a Member of the Royal Naval Oceanographic and Meteorological Branch I was appointed to HMS Endurance and set sail for the South Atlantic on the 13 October 1981. My role as the flight’s weather man was not the only duty; I soon found myself a bridge watch keeper, flight deck officer, crypto custodian, confidential book keeper, doing public relations, education, transition and the occasional inspection visits to Antarctic bases of varying nationality under the Antarctic Treaty.
The ship’s company took part in the Battle Day commemoration in Stanley (8th December) and then set sail for South Georgia with Governor Rex Hunt and his wife Mavis. South Georgia was then part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies. During the visit, in which the Governor and his wife crashed in the wasp helicopter due to sudden katabatic winds, there was much talk about the negotiated contract to allow Argentine, Constantino Davidoff, recover the valuable scrap from Leith Whaling station. There had already been suspicions of Argentine ships visiting the island without securing port of entry clearance. Governor Hunt viewed these arrangements as allowing the Argentines a foot in the door enabling them to use minor conflicts with the British to escalate into bigger things.
Endurance visited the Argentine submarine base at Mar Del Plata as a mid-deployment rest and relaxation, in February 1982, and the ship’s company were well looked after and got to know many of the submariners – the significance of this erupts about ten weeks later.
By the 12 March the Antarctic season had come to a close and we called in to South Georgia once more to collect a Joint Services expedition for onward travel back to the UK. By the 19th March we had arrived in Stanley and were moored opposite the FIC jetty. Many people had gone ashore and I was left as the duty man. An encrypted message came in from the British Antarctic Survey Base in South Georgia for Governor Hunt which I sent ashore with a messenger. Then I had a call from the Governor saying he had received the encrypted message but needed to know how to decode it. I explained the key technicalities. I was informed later that an Argentine ship had entered Leith Harbour, set up a base, hoisted the Argentine flag and military looking Argentines had gone shooting reindeer for food.
The next morning there was a quickly-arranged meeting on board Endurance to discuss the evolving situation and to ensure the Foreign Office fully understood the situation. Endurance was then quietly sailed early morning of the 21 March for South Georgia with its company of 12 Royal Marines increased to 22 from the resident detachment in Stanley. Room was made for them by leaving the Hydrograhic Department behind in Stanley to work on the surveys they had conducted during the deployment. To give credibility to Endurance’s passage north the Captain asked me to provide plausible but fake six hourly coded weather observations for such a track. The ship continued on a course to the east south east. Weather synops were sent as immediates to the headquarters in Northwood and, where appropriate, distributed through the World Meteorological Organization network. It is well-known that interruptions or changes in the supply of synoptic meteorological data accompany civil strife or military aggression.
It takes about three days to get to South Georgia and, by the time we got there, things had escalated, and political deals were being attempted to save a physical encounter between British and Argentine representatives. The role of Endurance, for the time being, was to carry out covert surveillance and work alongside the British Antarctic Survey scientists. By the 30 April a clearer picture was beginning to emerge of a likely attack on the Falkland Islands and we sailed away from South Georgia with darken ship and no navigation lights; it was a dangerous departure but nonetheless successful. The party of 22 Royal Marines had been left at Grytviken under the command of my co-flight deck officer Keith Mills. Their role was to work with and protect the British Antarctic Survey scientists and then offer an effective defence if an attack came from Argentine Forces. About half way to the Falkland Island the ship was directed to return to South Georgia and on arrival found that the Argentine attack had occurred, a bullet ridden Argentine corvette was in Cumberland Bay and there was no sign of the Royal Marines or the BAS scientists. The ship was in the situation of being unwelcome in both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The ship was directed to continue to collect intelligence. Hiding at night amongst the tabular icebergs and in daylight in the coves and fjords of South Georgia, we listened in and made covert landings and observations. By this stage the ship had lost its 12 original Royal Marines at Grytviken and its Hydrographic Survey department in Stanley as prisoners of war.
During most of the time that Endurance was down south it was possible to receive the Analysis charts from the Buenos Aires meteorological office facsimile transmissions. As soon as the conflict got underway the Argentines continue to transmit the chart but covered both the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and surrounding ocean with a piece of paper. It was relatively easy to complete the isobars and finish the analysis and then focus more on the satellite cloud images.
After a couple of days, with fuel and food reaching low levels, the ship was directed north to just south of the tropics to replenish. That done, participants in operation Paraquat gathered and began a voyage south to South Georgia. Endurance had been joined by HMS Antrim, HMS Plymouth, RFA Tidespring and acquired some 70 SAS personnel including John Hamilton. When the vessels reached South Georgia they went into intelligence gathering mode, formulating plans to overwhelm the Argentines and take back the islands. Many adventurous schemes were suggested. As the local met man, I was asked many times for advice about parachuting, crossing glaciers and the nature of the weather and sea state. The successive crashes of rescuing helicopters on Fortuna Glacier, was the worst possible illustration of the dangerous nature of the weather on South Georgia. On the 23 April one of the ship’s communicators came to the bridge during my watch to report that there was an approaching submarine some 100 miles north west heading in our direction. It had been heard communicating with its Mar Del Plata base.
This brought a new dimension to the plan. By morning of the 25 April the submarine had been spotted and a Wessex from HMS Brilliant engaged it, followed by other helicopters and two wasps from HMS Endurance with AS12 missiles which damaged the fin. One of the wasp missiles failed to launch and the helicopter returned to the deck where it was directed back to the open waters for it to dump the weapon. The disabling of the submarine took one huge threat out of the balance and the changed momentum drove the British ships to a hasty attack on Grytviken, the main port of the island. Naval gun fire from Antrim and Plymouth presented a threatening message to the Argentine troops and they surrendered quickly without loss of life. It was ironic that the prisoners from the Argentine submarine Santa Fe were now meeting their former guests at Mar Del Plata in entirely different circumstances.
Endurance remained in South Georgia until the Falkland Islands fell to the British on the 14 June 1982.
After the recovery of the Falkland Islands, Captain Barker, CO of HMS Endurance was then directed to carry out Operation Keyhole to remove Argentine personnel from a meteorological station on Southern Thule in the South Sandwich Islands just a few miles north of the Antarctic Treaty area. They had occupied the British Island from 1976. He chose to take HMS Yarmouth, RFA Olmeda and Tug Salvageman. During the stealth approach to Southern Thule on the 20 June 1982, I was able to inform the Captain that the Argentine station had released its morning synop telling us of good conditions for our approach. It possibly suggested that we were not expected; however an inspection that followed the surrender indicated that the equipment at the station had been systematically destroyed probably leaving the surface observation equipment until the last minute.
HMS Endurance sailed from Southern Thule to South Georgia and then to the Falkland Islands where the ship took Governor Hunt on a tour of his islands. The photograph was taken during a ships TV interview with the governor at Fox Bay on the 22 July 1982. The ship then made its way north to arrive at Chatham Dockyard on the 20 August where it received a tumultuous and emotional welcome.