On 2 April 1982, Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory located more than 8,000 miles from the UK.

Just three days later on 5 April, the first ships of a combined British task force set sail in response.

Not all of the ships that sailed south were part of the Royal Navy however. Merchant ships including cargo vessels, tankers and cruise liners were requisitioned to support the operation.

These were quickly transformed into everything from supply ships and troop carriers to floating hospitals – and their crews suddenly found themselves part of a major military operation.

As part of the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, the National Maritime Museum interviewed a number of men and women who served on these ships, recording their memories of the conflict at sea.

Tap the links to find out more about each of their stories, and listen to extracts from their interviews. 

Sally Goodman

Sally Goodman, a Junior Assistant Purser with P&O, was due to join the cruise ship SS Canberra for its next voyage. However, when the 45,000-ton ship was instead converted into a troop carrier bound for the Falklands, Sally was given the choice to volunteer. She said yes.

Listen to her story


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Alison Harris

Alison Harris was a purser working for P&O Ferries on board the SS Uganda. She became aware of the situation unfolding in the Falklands through the BBC World Service. The captain then informed the crew that the ship would be requisitioned, giving them the choice to stay on or travel home. Alison chose the former.

Listen to her story

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Howard Ormerod

Howard Ormerod served on board the container ship SS Atlantic Conveyor, one of a number of merchant vessels requisitioned during the Falklands. When he was asked to volunteer for the naval task force he readily agreed, a decision helped by the fact that his partner Liz had already deployed aboard the hospital ship SS Uganda.

Listen to his story

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Liz Ormerod

Liz Ormerod was a Senior Nursing Officer in the Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service when she was called up to join SS Uganda. At the time, she was working on the Intensive Care Unit at Plymouth Royal Naval Hospital.

The Uganda had been an educational cruise ship for school-age children, but would serve as a floating hospital throughout the conflict.

Listen to her story

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About the interviews

These interviews were conducted as part of an oral history project led by the National Maritime Museum.

The recordings are now part of the permanent collection, providing first-hand testimony of the Merchant Navy's role in the Falklands conflict.

Extract from interview with naval volunteer Howard Ormerod

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