12. British naval losses mounted during the month of May
Although the Argentine fleet withdrew from the battle after the loss of General Belgrano, its air arm did not. Nor did the Argentine Air Force. Attacks on the British task force and supporting vessels continued from the air throughout the month of May. On May 21 HMS Argonaut, a frigate, was crippled when hit by Argentine bombs which did not explode, but nonetheless did heavy damage from the force of their impact. Ordnance disposal teams later defused the bombs. HMS Antelope was not so lucky. Hit by two bombs which also failed to explode, Antelope sank when the ordnance team attempting to defuse one bomb detonated it, causing massive fires and breaking the ship’s keel.
HMS Ardent, another frigate, was sunk by aerial attack on May 21. HMS Coventry sank after being hit by three bombs, two of which exploded. On May 25 SS Atlantic Conveyor was hit by two Exocet missiles. The ensuing fires destroyed 9 of the 10 helicopters being carried by the cargo ship, as well as all of the fuel and ammunition aboard. The ship was taken under tow after the fires burned themselves out, though it sank on May 28. The loss of the helicopters adversely impacted the speed with which the British Army advanced after landing to attack Port Stanley. The losses of British ships, and the damage done to others, was a source of deep concern to the Admiralty and the War Cabinet, and hurt morale in Great Britain.