Raleigh remembers sailor who died in the Falklands

Raleigh remembers sailor who died in the Falklands.

A wreath has been laid on Plymouth Hoe to remember a 20-year-old sailor who lost his life during the Falklands campaign and whose name lives on at HMS Raleigh.

Acting Steward Shaun Hanson, who hailed from Sheffield, was one of 22 sailors who died when the Plymouth based Type 21 frigate HMS Ardent, was attacked and sunk in San Carlos Waters, on 21 May 1982.  Some 32-years later HMS Raleigh opened a new training division for recruits and named it Hanson in honour of Shaun. 

Lieutenant Daley Murray, Hanson Divisional Training Officer said:  “Our training divisions are traditionally named after inspirational naval figures.  When Raleigh was looking for a name for the new division, the team wanted someone who the trainees could relate to and who demonstrated the core values we instil in the recruits, of courage, commitment, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty.  Shaun Hanson was the ideal candidate and as a division we are very proud of our association with him.  So far he has inspired approximately 2,000 new sailors in the six years the division has been open.”

Shaun achieved his ambition to join the Royal Navy in March 1981.  Less than a year after passing-out of HMS Raleigh he was serving his country on board his first ship, HMS Ardent. The ship was part of the Task Group sent to the Falklands after the Argentinean invasion.

On 21 May 1982, just after midnight local time, Ardent was the lead frigate, guiding a convoy of amphibious ships from the open waters of the South Atlantic into the more confined waters of Falkland Sound.  The ship was later in the thick of the action protecting the troops landing in San Carlos, from aerial attack. 

When the Argentineans woke up to realise the landings had started, all hell broke loose in the skies over San Carlos and Falkland Sound. The warships had been positioned in a defensive arc to defend the beach-head from attack by the Argentine Air Force jets coming from mainland Argentina, 400 miles to the west. I was working in the weapons section base and Shaun Hanson was our communications number for the day.

Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer was a young Petty Officer Weapons Engineer, serving alongside Shaun Hanson on board HMS Ardent in 1982.  Today he is one of the Royal Naval Association members who give up their time to support the recruits during their time at Raleigh. Fittingly Steve is assigned to Hanson Division.

He said:  “When the Argentineans woke up to realise the landings had started, all hell broke loose in the skies over San Carlos and Falkland Sound. The warships had been positioned in a defensive arc to defend the beach-head from attack by the Argentine Air Force jets coming from mainland Argentina, 400 miles to the west.  I was working in the weapons section base and Shaun Hanson was our communications number for the day.”

When the first bomb hit Ardent, Shaun Hanson was seen fighting a fire in the helicopter hanger.  He was then rendering first aid to an injured shipmate when the second attack came.  Both Shaun and his patient were killed instantly.

Steve said:  “As the day went on it all got very hectic. Shaun was sent away for other tasking and sadly we never saw him again.  By the time the sun went down on the 21st, three warships had been damaged by bombs, and one, the Ardent, was ablaze and sinking.  The Captain, realising that the ship was lost, ordered "abandon ship". Sadly, 22 of our Ship's Company, including Shaun Hanson, were lost. The rest of us were lucky enough to survive and were picked up by another frigate.”

After the campaign the HMS Ardent Association was formed and since 1982 has gathered in Plymouth on the anniversary of the ship’s sinking to remember their shipmates.

Steve said:  “Because of the current pandemic we aren’t able to be together this year, but we are hugely appreciative that the Hanson team in HMS Raleigh were able to mark the remembrance for us by laying a wreath at the Falklands memorial on the Hoe on our behalf.”