New HMS Raleigh accommodation pays tribute to Navy heritage

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

HMS Raleigh's four new accommodation blocks, which pay tribute to Service personnel involved in the Falklands campaign, have formally been opened.

The blocks have been named after units which were part of the UK Task Force sent to recover the Falkland Islands in 1982. The operation was codenamed Operation Corporate.

The new blocks, named Antelope, Ardent, Sir Galahad and Conqueror, have been built at the Torpoint-based Royal Navy training establishment as part of a major upgrade of facilities.

To mark the formal opening, Captain Nick Tobin, the Commanding Officer of HMS Antelope during the Falklands campaign, was invited to unveil a commemorative plaque mounted on a stone brought back from the Falkland Islands.

As part of the ceremony, Captain Tobin presented to HMS Raleigh for safe-keeping the original crest recovered from the bridge of HMS Antelope 48 hours after the ship had been sunk.

Veterans who served on the ships and the submarine were also invited to attend the ceremony at HMS Raleigh, along with Sea Cadets from the Training Ship Ardent in Bollington, Cheshire.

Following tours of the new buildings, Captain Tobin cut a commemorative cake during a reception, assisted by Trainee Logistician Natalie Skilton, aged 16, the youngest sailor undergoing specialist training at HMS Raleigh.

Ardent and Antelope blocks are home to the trainees of Corporate Squadron who are undergoing their professional training within the Defence Maritime Logistics School, the Royal Naval Submarine School and the Royal Naval School of Seamanship.

Conqueror block is the new base for the National Sea Cadet Training Centre and Sir Galahad will be used to accommodate sailors returning to HMS Raleigh for career progression courses.

Ardent and Antelope blocks have been configured with eight-person bedrooms, known as mess decks - a significant improvement on the previous accommodation, where sailors slept up to 28 to a mess deck.

The Sea Cadets will sleep 12 to a mess deck, while Sir Galahad will accommodate six per mess deck.

Each mess deck has its own utility area, common room and bathroom facilities.

Offices for instructional staff and a lecture room, complete with state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, are situated on the ground floor of each building.

Captain Steve Murdoch, the Commanding Officer of HMS Raleigh, said:

Corporate Squadron stood up in October 2009 and feedback from the trainees accommodated in the first two blocks to become available has been very positive.

Although the rooms provide the trainees with a degree of privacy they still have to live side-by-side with their mess mates as they will do at sea on board ship.

Naming the blocks after some of the key units involved in 1982 is a fitting tribute to three of the fighting arms of Operation Corporate. The Corporate link is a constant reminder of those who took part in the action of 28 years ago.

It encourages the trainees to learn about the Royal Navy’s heritage and helps to instil the Navy’s core values in our young recruits. I’m delighted that so many members of the ship’s associations were able to join us for the formal opening.

The construction of Antelope and Ardent blocks began in 2008, with the first occupants moving into the buildings in October 2009. Work to build Sir Galahad and Conqueror began in February 2009.

The building project has been overseen by the Fleet Royal Naval Estates Organisation. VT Group has been the prime contractor, with building work being carried out by Mansell Construction Services Ltd.

Type 21 frigates HMS Antelope and HMS Ardent were both victims of enemy air attack during the Falklands conflict in May 1982.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Sir Galahad was classed as a Landing Ship Logistics. The ship was hit by bombs and badly damaged while unloading soldiers from the Welsh Guards on 8 June 1982. A total of 48 men lost their lives.

HMS Conqueror, a Churchill Class submarine, fired the torpedoes which sank the Argentine cruiser the General Belgrano. The submarine remained in service until 1990.