ON THE afternoon of May 21, 1982, Chief Petty Officer Mike Cox was at his action station in the HMS Ardent Control Room, when several bombs hit the ship.

“One of them entered the machinery space below me - it did not explode, otherwise I would not be here talking to you today,” he says.

“That ship took a hell of a pounding before we had to abandon – a testament to how well she was built.”

Glasgow Times: Mike Cox

Tuesday (June 14) marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands Conflict.

HMS Ardent was a Royal Navy Type 21 frigate, built by what was then Yarrow Shipbuilders and is now BAE Systems, at Scotstoun on the Clyde.

During the Falklands Conflict, after sustained bombing by Argentinian aircraft, she sank in the Falkland Sound.

“It was a bad day, and a very sad one – 22 crew died and 30 were wounded,” says Mike, whose description of the attack is vivid and moving.

“We were attacked by three aircraft, and a number of bombs hit the ship, damaging the flight deck and the control room, destroying the helicopter in the hangar area and disrupting power to the main gun.

“The Sea Cat anti-aircraft missile system was blown off the roof of the hangar, leaving us effectively defenceless, with only two old Second World War cannons and men with pistols and rifles on deck.

“We were hit again, and flooding knocked out our systems.”

Glasgow Times: HMS Ardent sank on May 21 after being bombed by Argentinian aircraft

He adds: “Commander Alan West, later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and who served as First Sea Lord, gave the order to abandon the ship. But it had taken a lot of punishment before that point – it stood up to a great deal.”

Mike, who also worked on the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier programme, is now Senior Engineering Delivery Manager at BAE Systems in Canada.

“Ships that are built on the Clyde are built well,” he says.

“The Royal Navy has had a close relationship with the Clyde for decades, with warships being built there since before the First World War. It is highly significant that the Type 26 ships, such as the new HMS Glasgow, which have to be advanced, multi-capable ships, are being built in Glasgow.”

Mike joined the Royal Navy, he says, because “all his friends were doing it.”

“I was brought up in a 1950s council house and I left school at 16 with no qualifications,” he explains.

“The navy gave me a chance to learn a trade – I joined as a junior electrical mechanic, worked up to technician and after four years’ training, I was allowed on a ship.

“By the time I left, after 34 years’ service, I was a Lieutenant Commander and my last appointment was as Marine Engineer Officer of HMS Newcastle.”

Mike is now in Halifax in Canada, as part of the knowledge and skills transfer process between the two countries.

“It has been a great experience, to be involved in a programme of such significance to the Royal Canadian Navy and to shipbuilding in Canada in general,” he says.

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Mike’s Royal Navy experience has been invaluable in all of his roles at BAE Systems, particularly in the Aircraft Carrier programme - which he describes as the ‘pinnacle’ of his career - and on Type 26.

“I have experience of taking these operating systems to sea,” he says.

“I know why they have to be absolutely the best they can be. I understand the endgame.”