6. Retaking the Falklands and South Georgia Island posed formidable difficulties
The Falklands lie over 7,000 nautical miles away from Great Britain, and 3,300 nautical miles from Ascension Island. The difficulties supplying the invasion force, which had to operate within range of the Argentine Air Force and Navy were huge. In addition, Ascension Island lacked port facilities. Supplies for the forces established there had to be offloaded by boats from the arriving ships, or flown in via C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft. Because of political considerations, fuel for ships and aircraft could not be purchased from South American countries, nor from South Africa. The closest source of fuel for operations in the South Atlantic was Freetown, Sierra Leone, 4,100 miles from the war zone.
The Royal Navy requisitioned 15 tankers, which combined with the 14 tankers of the fleet auxiliary provided 29 ships to supply fuel to the war zone. Drinking water was also a problem. Most of the ships lacked the capability of producing drinking water, and the increased numbers of personnel aboard meant water was in short supply. A Canadian tanker was chartered to carry drinking water, which was transferred to vessels via underway replenishment. The Royal Navy had no hospital ships, so a cruise liner, SS Uganda, was hastily modified to serve as a medical facility, with 135 doctors, nurses, medics, and dentists assigned to treat the wounded and injured. Three survey vessels were modified to serve as ambulance ships. Surgical teams and other medical personnel were also deployed in the aircraft carriers.