RFA Tidespring A75Captain Shane Redmond took command of the Fleet Tanker, RFA Tidespring in January 1982 prior to Exercise Springtrain in the Atlantic. On completion of this exercise RFA Tidespring, with the majority of the fleet put in to Gibraltar for crew R and R. On the 2nd of April 1982 the ship sailed from Gibraltar in company with HMS Antrim and Plymouth as Task Group 317.8 for Ascension Island in response to a threat in the South Atlantic from Argentinean personnel who had landed on South Georgia illegally.
RFA Tidespring A75

 

Captain Shane Redmond took command of the Fleet Tanker, RFA Tidespring in January 1982 prior to Exercise Springtrain in the Atlantic. On completion of this exercise RFA Tidespring, with the majority of the fleet put in to Gibraltar for crew R and R. On the 2nd of April 1982 the ship sailed from Gibraltar in company with HMS Antrim and Plymouth as Task Group 317.8 for Ascension Island in response to a threat in the South Atlantic from Argentinean personnel who had landed on South Georgia illegally.

The Task Group arrived at Ascension Island on the 10th April and after embarking elements of ‘D’ Squadron SAS, and ‘Mike’ Company, 42 Commando, the majority of whom were accommodated on ‘Tidespring’, the Task Force sailed the next day en-route for South Georgia.

The ships arrived in the area of South Georgia on the 21st April 1982 and after inserting the Special Forces unit on Fortuna Glacier, using the two Wessex helicopters from Tidespring, the severe weather closed in and the flowing day the troops had to be rescued by the Wessex helicopters from Tidespring, as well as the Wessex from HMS Antrim. During this rescue, both of Tidespring’s helicopters were lost, but all personnel were rescued successfully.

The following late afternoon, the 23rd April, RFA Tidespring attempted a much needed pump over with RFA Brambleleaf which had to be hurriedly curtailed because of an enemy submarine in the vicinity, this pump over was successfully completed the next day and it was later discovered that the Argentinean submarine ‘Santa Fe’ was in the area and was preparing to fire a spread of torpedoes at the two tankers, if this had been successful then two major units would have been destroyed and the operation would have failed.

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South Georgia was re-captured by British Forces on the 25th April 1982 after the Argentinean forces had been subdued by Naval Gunfire from HMS Antrim and Plymouth, and the troops of ‘Mike Company 42 Commando. After the surrender the Prisoners of War were gathered together at Grytviken and Captain Brian Young, Commanding Officer of the Task Group and HMS Antrim asked Captain Redmond if he could accommodate the POW’s, the reply was possibly the shortest signal ever sent and read “Delighted”.

Shortly after this the prisoners were sent aboard Tidespring and accommodated throughout the ship in purpose built accommodation. RFA Tidespring sailed from South Georgia on the 2nd May 1982, escorted by HMS Antrim bound for Ascension Island.

The ship arrived back at Ascension Island on the 12th May and after disembarking the POW’s, re-storing and collecting two replacement helicopters, sailed again for the Falkland Islands where the ship joined the Task Force on the night of the 21st/22nd May. RFA Tidespring continued to supply fuel to ships of the Task Force throughout the conflict in all weathers and whilst under constant danger from Argentinean air attack.

On the 11th October 1982 Captain Shane Redmond was invested as an Additional Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his professionalism and unerring sense of duty whilst in command of RFA Tidespring during a difficult and dangerous operation, and for his humanitarian treatment of the prisoners of war repatriated from South Georgia.

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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