Dockyard workers’ efforts in ’82 immortalised

A plaque commemorating the efforts of HM Naval Base Portsmouth workers in readying 39 ships to join the task force deployed to the Falkland Islands in 1982 has been unveiled today.

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Rob Wood, had the honour and it will remain on display in the Historic Dockyard at Boathouse No 7.

It was made by Rohann Pearce, a machinist apprentice with BAE Systems, and was concepted by Andrew Cave, a former member of the Royal Navy who has suggested all the dockyards involved in preparing ships for the conflict are recognised in a similar way.

Among the guests were Michael Betts, Deputy Representative of the Falkland Islands Government to the UK, city MPs Stephen Morgan and Penny Mordaunt, and Dennis Miles and Nigel Linger of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Trust who worked on the wording and provided a suitable location for the plaque.

It is testament to the immense professional pride, patriotism and passion that the dockyard workers possessed, that despite the news of imminent closure of the dockyard in 1982, and being issued with their redundancy notices at lunchtime on 2 April, that even faced with the loss of their jobs and livelihoods, they returned to their workplaces and remained dedicated to the task of getting the Fleet deployed and ready for operations on 5 April 1982.

Naval Base Commander, Commodore JJ Bailey

Mr Cave joined the Royal Navy in 1981 and sailed in HMS Hermes as a 17-year-old; his action station was the chaff rockets. Now living in Shrewsbury and sadly unable to attend today’s unveiling, it was his initial suggestion that prompted the plaque’s creation in honour of the workers who carried on with little or no rest through those hectic days.

“I am extremely grateful to everybody who has helped me to achieve their rightful recognition,” he said.

“The fact remains that our country was only able to respond as quickly as it did because of the dockyard workforce. There is no doubt whatsoever that they played a massive part in the success of the operation and the country owes them a great debt.”