Four Weeks in May: The Loss of HMS Coventry : a Captain's Story
In March, 1982, the guided-missile destroyer HMS Coventry was one of a small squadron of ships on exercise off Gibraltar. By the end of April that year she was sailing south in the vanguard of the Task Force towards the Falklands. As diplomacy failed, crisis became conflict. By the time the ship left Ascension Island, its company knew war was inevitable--a war in which they would be in the front line. For Coventry, the war began in earnest on May 1. Her job was to be "on picket" to the north west of the islands. She was to provide early warning of approaching enemy aircraft from the west, and fend off any incoming threat to the highly valuable ships and aircraft behind her. On May 25, Coventry was attacked by two Argentine Skyhawks, and hit by three bombs. The explosions tore out most of her port side and killed 19 of the crew, leaving many others injured--mostly by burns. Within 20 minutes she had capsized, and was to sink early the next day. In her final moments, when all those not killed by the explosions had been evacuated from the ship, her Captain, David Hart Dyke, himself badly burned, climbed down her starboard side and into a life raft. This is his compelling and moving story.
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