Falklands Islands

In the Falklands we stopped at New Island and at Saunders Island, before going on to Stanley, from where we took our land-rover trip to Volunteer Point to see the King Penguins there. On our way back from Volunteer Point there was a message to return to the ship immediately as the wind had got up, and the Captain wanted to leave post haste incase it became too difficult to get out of Stanley Harbour

The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean about 310 miles ) east of the Patagonian coast. The archipelago East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. The islands' capital is Stanley on East Falkland where most of the population live. By 2006 the population was 2,955 (excluding British Military personnel) of whom 2,115 lived in Stanley and 477 in Mount Pleasant (these are mainly civilian contractors of one sort or another who are not Falklanders) , 194 in the rest of East Falkland, 127 in West Falkland and 42 in the other islands. To all intents and purposes nobody lives outside Stanley except for the odd very small community or house. The population primarily consists of native Falkland Islanders, the vast majority being of British descent. Immigration from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena, and Chile has reversed a former population decline.

The islands lie on the boundary of the Subarctic maritime climate and Temperate maritime climate zones with both major islands having mountain ranges reaching to 2,300 feet. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism, sheep farming with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports, and oil exploration. Oil exploration, licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, remains controversial as a result of maritime disputes with Argentina.

Disagreement exists, as is well known, over ownership of the Islands. At various times, the islands have had French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain re-established its rule in 1833, though the islands continue to be claimed by Argentina. In 1982 Argentina invaded the islands, there followed the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War, which ended with the surrender of all Argentine forces and the return of the islands to British administration. Falkland Islanders themselves reject the Argentine sovereignty claim. On 10 and 11 March 2013, just after our visit, the Falkland Islands held a referendum over its political status, and voters favoured (99.8%) remaining under British rule.

The UK appointed governor acts on the advice of the Executive Council, composed of himself as chairman, the Chief Executive, Director of Finance and three elected Legislative Assembly Members. The Legislative Assembly consists of the Chief Executive, Director of Finance and the eight members elected for four-year terms by universal suffrage, of whom five are from Stanley and three from Camp. There are no political parties, and no formal opposition. Justice is administered by a resident senior magistrate and a non-resident Chief Justice of the islands who visits the islands at least once a year. The senior magistrate handles petty criminal cases, civil, commercial, admiralty and family cases and is also the island's coroner. The Chief Justice handles serious criminal cases and hears appeals.

The British Army now maintains a garrison on the Falkland Islands based at Mount Pleasant. The total deployment is about 1200 personnel made up of an infantry company, an engineer squadron and supporting services. There are also Rapier Missile stations and other anti-air equipment deployed on the islands. RAF Mount Pleasant, built following the surrender of Argentine invasion forces, is capable of accepting trans-Atlantic long distance aircraft. Four Typhoon aircraft provide air defence for the islands and surrounding territories and have a secondary ground attack role. A VC10 provides air transport and aerial refueling for the fighters. When a fighter is launched it is almost immediately followed by the VC10 as changeable weather conditions might make diversion to another airfield necessary. The Hercules provides resupply missions through the use of air-drops and also carries out maritime patrol. The cost to the UK defence budget is difficult to ascertain, it depends on how you cost it. The Ministry of Defence said in 2010 that the cost was £70 million excluding costs such as military equipment, servicemen’s pay, repairs and communications from the budget.

We touched land first at New Island, which was one of the earliest of the Falkland Islands to be colonised, and American whalers may have arrived as early as the 1770s. Coffin's Harbour, where we landed, is named after the Coffin family of Nantucket. In 1813, Captain Charles H. Barnard, from Nantucket, was marooned with his crew on the island and the remains of his hut are now restored as a museum. Today New Island is visited for its colonies of Rockhopper Penguins and Black Browed Albatross.

Then on to Saunders Island . Once the capital of the Falklands, and now just a remote settlement. We landed well away from the settlement and saw masses of Albatrosses and Gentoo Penguins

And finally Stanley and Volunteer Point with its King Penguin colony. A five hour round trip to get there and back, but a wonderful experience

After that it was up anchor and on to South Georgia

 

On to South Georgia

Silversea Explorer Voyage

Shipboard Life