HMS Sheffield sinking: what happened to ship that sank in Falklands war - where is shipwreck and new memorial?

A service to mark the anniversary of the sinking of the warship was carried out at the HMS Sheffield Memorial in the city of Sheffield

It’s been four decades since navy ship HMS Sheffield sank during the Falklands War.

The Royal Navy warship was struck by an Argentine missile on May 4 1982, and later sank on May 10 in 1982.

To mark the milestone anniversary, civic leaders, veterans and members of the public have joined together at events across the country to commemorate those who lost their lives or were injured during the sinking.

But, what exactly was the ship and what happened to it?

Here’s what you need to know.

What was HMS Sheffield?

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HMS Sheffield was a Type 42 guided missile destroyer. It was commissioned on 16 February 1975 and was part of the Task Force 317, sent to the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War.

It was the second Royal Navy ship to be named after the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire.

The warship carried many fixtures and fittings manufactured in Sheffield, including a great number of stainless steel items, leading it to have the nickname the ‘Shiny Sheff’.

The shipwreck of HMS Sheffield is now a protected war grave.

What happened to HMS Sheffield?

On May 4 1982, the 4,100-ton destroyer was struck by a missile fired from an Argentine fighter bomber as it carried out a scouting mission off the Falklands -  which Argentina had invaded and claimed as their own weeks earlier.

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The ship caught fire when a French-made Exocet missile hit HMS Sheffield and went deep into its control room.

The blaze caused a poisonous smoke to be released and most of the crew abandoned ship.

A major rescue operation was launched in the South Atlantic, and as the crew were waiting to be rescued Sub Lieutenant Carrington-Wood kept spirits high by singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Of the 268 crew onboard, many were rescued and taken to safety, but 20 were killed and more were injured.

Once the crew had been rescued, five inspections were made to see if any equipment on HMS Sheffield could be salvaged.

Orders were issued to shore up the hole in Sheffield’s starboard side and tow the ship to South Georgia.

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However, before these orders could be carried out the burnt-out hulk had already been taken in tow by the Rothesay-class frigate Yarmouth.

The ship was towed during high seas, and that caused slow flooding through the hole in the ship’s side.

This ultimately caused the ship to sink on 10 May 1982.

Where is the HMS Sheffield shipwreck?

The wreck of HMS Sheffield is a war grave and designated as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

The primary reason for designation is to protect the last resting place of British servicemen.

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Wrecks are designated by name and can be designated as protected places even if the location of the site is not known.

The Act makes it an offence for anyone to interfere with a protected place, to disturb the site in any way or to remove anything from it. Divers may visit the site, but they must only look at it and not touch anything.

It is believed that the shipwreck is still in the place where HMS Sheffield sank.

What happened during the Falklands war?

The Falklands War was a ten week war between Argentina and the UK in 1982 over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands and the South Sandwich Islands.

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote British colony in the South Atlantic.

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On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an assault on the islands.

The war ended when Argentine forces surrendered to the British forces and peace was declared on 20 June 1982.

HMS Sheffield was the first British warship to be lost in 37 years, and also the first of four Royal Navy ships sunk during the Falklands War.

The others were the frigates Ardent and Antelope and the destroyer Coventry.

How was the anniversary commemorated?

In Sheffield, the Sheffield Sea Cadets carried out a parade at a war memorial in the city centre on Sunday 1 May.

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The Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Professor Dame Hilary Chapman DBE and the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, councillor Gail Smith, took the salute accompanied by other senior dignitaries.

A wreath was then laid and a service was carried out at the HMS Sheffield Memorial at Sheffield Cathedral, also in the city centre.

Father Grant Naylor, priest of St Matthew’s Church in Carver Street, Sheffield city centre, said: “We gather together conscious of the sacrifice made 40 years ago by those men that went down with the Sheffield.

“And with those who were injured and those who came back with the mental scars of fighting in that particular conflict.

"We gather together to give thanks to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice."

It’s not just the people of Sheffield who are marking the anniversary.

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A new memorial was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Where is the new memorial for HMS Sheffield?

A new memorial is being unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Burton-on-Trent on Wednesday, May 4.

The HMS Sheffield Association Committee commissioned the memorial to celebrate the service of those who served in the three ships; cruiser, destroyer and frigate, which all bore the name of HMS Sheffield.

The memorial, which is made of Sheffield stainless steel, is engraved with the following words:

‘Shiny Sheff’

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For all who served in the three HMS SHEFFIELD ships Cruiser 1937-67, Destroyer 1970-82, Frigate 1986-2002.

Unveiled 4th May 2022 40th anniversary of the loss of HMS SHEFFIELD and twenty of the Ship’s Company in The Falklands Conflict

‘Fair Winds and Following Seas’

Has the HMS Sheffield name been used since?

In November 2018, The Royal Navy announced that a new warship would be named HMS Sheffield.

One of eight anti-submarine vessels to be built, it will be the fourth HMS Sheffield to serve the naval warfare force

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The new warship has been commissioned and will be built in the second phase of construction of the new Royal Navy warships.

An announcement about the new ship is expected soon, according to the Sheffield Star.