The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic


Mail and passenger ships were a lifeline to the Falklands, they still are important for supplies but before the air links passengers had to get to Uruguay to connect with liners or air-links to the outside world.
Early communication, following the re-establishment of sovereignty in 1833, with Great Britain was dependent entirely on ships calling in to Stanley for repairs or provisions.

From 1852- 1854 Amelia a schooner purchased by the Falkland Islands Company, ran to Montevideo under contract to the Government providing a mail service. She proved unviable and was withdrawn. She was replaced by the much smaller schooner Fairy which ran between Montevideo and the Falklands under a new mail contract fo a few years. Mail was irregular but in 1872 the FIC commissioned the building of a large top said schooner Black Hawk which made 8 regular trips to and from Montevideo with mail for transshipment to Europe. Still, it did not pay and in 1880 the FIC contracted with the German Kosmos to take their cargo and the mail contract too. This lasted for 20 years but eventually the postal authorities decided British mail should not be carried on foreign vessels and the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, an agency held by the FIC took over the contract until it ended in 1917.

Mail Ship Oravia 1900-1912
The Oravia wrecked on the Billy Rock close to the lighthouse at Cape Pembroke on the 12th of November 1912, a wild windy night. The newly installed Wireless Station in Stanley received a request for assistance and the tugboat Samson, the government launch the Penguin, and several steam whalers left immediately to the rescue. All passengers, crew and even the luggage and the mail were taken off the stricken ship as she ground against the rocks.
  • SS-Falkland
SS Falkland 1914-1934
SS Falkland arrived in the Falkland Islands in February 1914. Re-designated to RMS Falkland as the official carrier of mail, she was the first passenger steamer for the Falkland Islands Company running to Montevideo with mail and passengers and also served as an inter-island mail, passenger and cargo.
  • Afterglow/ from postcard Falkland Islands Company

HMCS Afterglow 1922-1926
Built in 1918, Afterglow arrived in the Falkland Islands in the early 1920's to be used as an armed patrol vessel to deter seal poachers. From 1922-1926 she was used for the inter-insular mail service. In 1931 she was bought by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Sealing Company, ironically to work in sealing. During the World War she was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a tender. She lies in front of the Market Garden, close to FIPASS, mostly only her boiler is visible now.

  • Fitzroy

SS Lafonia/ Fitzroy 1936-1941, a steamship built to provide a monthly service for passengers, cargos and mails between Stanley and Montevideo where she connected with the Royal Mail vessels. In 1936 she was renamed RMS Fitzroy. At this point the FIC introduced a much bigger passenger vessel, the steamship Southern Coast which in turn took over the name Lafonia.


MV Philomel 1948-1966. Built as a standard motor fishing vessel, 75.5 ft long with a beam of 19ft and a cargo capacity of 40 tons, MV Philomel arrived in the islands in February 1948, the first vessel to be purchased by the Falkland Islands Government for inter-island service for mail, cargo and passengers. She was fitted out to carry hospital patients to Stanley and in 1953 she visited camp settlements with a portable X-ray machine to detect tuberculosis. She was in service for 20 years between 1948 and 1966 when she was replaced by MV Forrest. For most of her life she was skippered by Captain Jack Sollis.

MV Merck-N 1951-1952

  • AES at Fox Bay photograph John Buckley

MV A.E.S 1957-1974 The A.E.S., a 994 gross, 449 net ton cargo vessel, was built as a cargo vessel but also had accommodation for 18 passengers. Svendborg Skibsvaerft, Denmark built her for A E Sorensen, hence her name. She was chartered by the Falkland Islands Company to make four round trips to the Falklands per year with cargo, mail and passengers. She did this for 17 years.  While in the islands A. E. S. would call at Falkland settlements to collect their wool. The Company did not have cargo for the fourth return journey to the U.K. and she used to call at South America and often took Brazilian timber on that voyage. Her final trip to the islands was in 1974.

  • Darwin-Fox-Bay

RMS Darwin 1957-1972
RMS Darwin replaced Fitzroy in 1957. Darwin was newly built for the Falkland Islands Company, 1793 tonnage and capable of carrying 30 passengers. She did the passenger and mail service to Montevideo (4 days journey), an annual run to South Georgia and approximately monthly round trips to the camp with mail passengers and cargo. Her high operating costs made her economically unviable and eventually in 1971 she was withdrawn and sold. In September 1973 she left Stanley for the last time.

  • forrest

MV Forrest Forrest who replaced Philomel was larger, 86 ft long with a 22 ft beam, so capable of carrying larger cargoes. She was launched in May 1967 and arrived in the islands on 8th November to be registered in Port Stanley on 1st December 1968. She was named for Dr W. Forrest McWhan, Minister of the islands’ Tabernacle (United Free Church) 1934- 1965.

  • working-monsunen

MV Monsunen 1972-1992. The Monsunen was bought by the Falkland Islands Company in 1972, a Danish coastal vessel for inter-island use, and for delivering supplies to its outlying farms/ collecting the wool to be shipped onwards to the UK on a charter vessel. During the 1982 conflict the Argentines requisitioned her until she was recaptured and in turn requisitioned by the British Royal Navy. She was returned to the FIC’s service and eventually sold in 1992.









Photographs and Images: Falkland Islands Company postcards/ Hurst/Buckley/ Maddocks
Sources include: The Falkland Islands- Ian J Strange, Michael Wright/ The Company/ The Company’s Ships