Weighing in at 27,000 tonnes, the Norland was built by AG Weser, and launched in 1974. Registered in Hull, she was a roll on-roll off P&O ferry that spent her time crossing the North Sea between Hull and Continental Europe, carrying lorries and tourists to the Netherlands.
In 1982 she was plucked from the relative safety of the North Sea crossing and pressed into service carrying troops from the UK to the Falkland Islands as part of the Task Force that was being sent to recover the islands following the Argentinian invasion on the 2nd of April.
When requisitioned the Norland’s crew were given the option of remaining in the UK. Remarkably the Captain and crew opted to remain with their vessel. The plan initially was for the Norland to take troops most of the way and then transfer them to other vessels well away from any combat areas. This wasn’t to be the case.
At Ascension Island the crew were given another opportunity to leave the ship, and again they remained. They saw it as their duty to remain with their ship and look after the men who would soon be fighting on a remote island thousands of miles from home. As they approached the Islands the plans changed.
Somebody had noticed that the Norland was equipped for side loading, and had doors on the side that could be used to transfer men to landing craft. The ship would now be entering San Carlos bay, right in the middle of the Combat Zone. This must have been a terrifying prospect for a civilian crew with no combat training, despite this they did their jobs, and as the troops disembarked, the Captain put out an address over the Tannoy thanking the men for travelling with them, and wishing them a safe return.