29 June 2012
The United States secretly formulated plans to loan amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima to the Royal Navy during the Falklands War in 1982, it has emerged.
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is said to have informally requested possible US support for the invasion in case British carriers HMS Hermes or HMS Invincible were rendered unusable.
John Lehman, who served as US Secretary of the Navy from 1981-1987, told the US Naval Institute that America's then-President Ronald Reagan said to "'Give Maggie everything she needs to get on with it" following the request.
Lehman said he met with the then-Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger to develop the plans, but that talks did not extend beyond the Department of Defence (DoD)
"We would leave the State Department, except for Haig [then Secretary of State Al Haig], out of it," said Lehman.
"As in most of the requests from the Brits at the time, it was an informal request on a "what if" basis, Navy to Navy."
Admiral James Lyson, who commanded the US Second Fleet at the time, said: "We decided that the USS Iwo Jima would be the ship that would be the easiest for the British to operate and would make for a smooth transfer.
"We also identified 'contract advisors' who would be on board to help the British with some of the systems."