British logistics in the falklands war

The British military campaign to re-take the Falkland Islands during 1982 depended on complex logistical arrangements. According to Admiral Sandy Woodward, who commanded the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier group during the Falklands War, the British Army, Royal Air Force, the Ministry of Defence and the Secretary of State for Defence, as well as the United States Navy, all “initially suspected the operation was doomed.” [1] The logistical difficulties of operating 8,000 miles (13,000 km) from home were part of the reason.

Merchant ships (STUFT) sent by the British during the Falklands War carried 100,000 tons of freight and 95 aircraft as well as 9,000 personnel. The supply chain also carried 400,000 tons of fuel. Even fresh water was a constituent of the logistics load sent to the south Atlantic. Fort Toronto served as a water tanker for the task force.[2]

Because of the distance from northwest Europe, the British took advantage of forward located supplies where they were available to them. The nearest forward base to the Falklands was on the British island of Ascension. The facilities there were run by the United States but they released their strategic stockpiles on the island. Chief among these was the provision by the US Air Force of aviation fuel. The US forces provided a total of 12.5 million US gallons (47,000 m3) or about 40,000 tons for British aircraft.[3]

But Ascension was still situated 3,800 miles (6,100 km) from the Falklands. As a result, the British were compelled to make use of whatever they could find in the South Atlantic. They went so far as to visit whaling stations that had been abandoned two decades earlier. After South Georgia was taken back from the Argentines, ships called in at the stations on the island where they requisitioned steel and other repair material. Then having landed on East Falkland the British made use of tractors lent by local farmers. There was little else available in forward locations. The British were forced to bring almost everything they required.[3]



  • Webb, K. (2007) "The Continued Importance of Geographic Distance and Boulding's Loss of Strength Gradient", Comparative Strategy, 26 (4), p. 295–310, 10.1080/01495930701598607
  • Woodward, S. (2003) One Hundred Days: the memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander, Rev. and updated ed., London : HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-713467-3

See also

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