A Mariner You Should Know – Captain Ian North

November 1, 2012 — Leave a comment
Falklands War

Captain Ian North
Photo: Commander Nick Messinger

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. A solitary remnant of the British Empire, the Falklands Islands have long been claimed by Argentina. In 1982 the Falklands were invaded by an Argentinian government looking to distract its citizens from deteriorating economic conditions at home. Faced with the possibility of ceding the Falklands (and their citizens who overwhelmingly identify as British subjects) to Argentina, the British government, led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, organized a task force to re-take the islands.

Among the vessels selected for the mission was the container ship M/V Atlantic Conveyor, captained by Ian North, a 33 year veteran of the British Merchant Navy. Argentinian Super Etendard jets attacked the British task force several times and on May 25, 1982, the Argies were successful in striking the Atlantic Conveyor with a pair of Exocet missiles. Fires quickly spread throughout the ship and forced its evacuation. A dozen crew perished when the ship sank, among them Captain North.

The Atlantic Conveyor was loaded with the majority of the task force’s transport helicopters and as a result the assault forces encountered greater difficulties than expected in invading the islands. The Argentinian commander of the Super Etendard squadron eulogized Captain North, writing “Captain North was a real sea-dog with his snowy beard, he was a great and brave man.” For his superb service, Captain North was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

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