Stanley Harbour

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Stanley Harbour from the air, with the hulk of Lady Elizabeth in the left foreground Stanley-Harbour.jpg
Stanley Harbour from the air, with the hulk of Lady Elizabeth in the left foreground
Stanley Harbour and the town, from the air Aerial photo Port Stanley.jpg
Stanley Harbour and the town, from the air
Early mapping of Stanley Harbour (Dom Pernety, 1769) Malouines-Est.jpg
Early mapping of Stanley Harbour (Dom Pernety, 1769)

Stanley Harbour is a large inlet on the east coast of East Falkland island. A strait called "the Narrows" leads into Port William.

East Falkland Island in Falkland Islands, Atlantic Ocean

East Falkland is the largest island of the Falklands in the South Atlantic, having an area of 6,605 km2 or 54% of the total area of the Falklands. The island consists of two main land masses, of which the more southerly is known as Lafonia; it is joined by a narrow isthmus that was the scene of the Battle of Goose Green during the Falklands War.

Port William, Falkland Islands inlet on East Falkland island

Port William is a large inlet on the east coast of East Falkland island. A strait called "the Narrows" leads into Stanley Harbour.


It serves the town of the same name – Stanley – as a harbour. Stanley has sprawled along the south shore of the harbour, to gain shelter from the low hill of Stanley Common. As such this is the busiest waterway of the Falkland Islands and frequently visited by cruise ships, freighters and navy vessels, although this has lessened since the building of the two airports at RAF Mount Pleasant and Port Stanley Airport. It was formerly, and still is to some extent, a repair yard for vessels damaged in South Atlantic storms, or needing to restock.

Stanley, Falkland Islands Place in Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

Stanley is the capital of the Falkland Islands. It is located on the island of East Falkland, on a north-facing slope in one of the wettest parts of the islands. At the 2016 census, the town had a population of 2,460. The entire population of the Falkland Islands was 3,398 on Census Day on 9 October 2016.

Falkland Islands archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean

The Falkland Islands is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about 300 miles east of South America's southern Patagonian coast, and about 752 miles from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago, with an area of 4,700 square miles, comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. As a British overseas territory, the Falklands have internal self-governance, and the United Kingdom takes responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs. The Falkland Islands' capital is Stanley on East Falkland.

Cruise ship passenger ship used for pleasure voyages

A cruise ship is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages when the voyage itself, the ship's amenities, and sometimes the different destinations along the way, form part of the passengers' experience. Transportation is not the only purpose of cruising, particularly on cruises that return passengers to their originating port. On "cruises to nowhere" or "nowhere voyages", cruise ships make 2-to-3 night round trips without any ports of call.


The peninsula on which Canopus Hill, Port Stanley Airport and Gypsy Cove lie, together with a narrow spit of land known as Navy Point, effectively divides Port William from Stanley Harbour. This in turn creates a small bay in Stanley Harbour known as the Canache, which is bridged at one end.

Canopus Hill mountain in United Kingdom

Canopus Hill is located on the island of East Falkland near Stanley, the capital city of the Falkland Islands. It is named after HMS Canopus which fired the first shots in the Battle of the Falkland Islands during World War I.

Port Stanley Airport airport in Stanley, Falkland Islands

Port Stanley Airport is an airport in the Falkland Islands, two miles (3.2 km) outside the capital, Stanley. The airport is the only civilian airport in the islands with a paved runway. However, RAF Mount Pleasant, located to the west of Stanley, functions as the islands' main international airport, because it has a long runway and allows civilian flights. Port Stanley Airport is operated by the Government of the Falkland Islands, and is used for internal flights between the islands and flights between the Falklands and Antarctica.

Stanley Harbour is effectively the enlarged estuary of Moody Brook, which flows into it at the west end. It was enlarged as the result of glacial action.

Moody Brook river in United Kingdom

Moody Brook is a small watercourse that flows into Stanley Harbour on East Falkland, Falkland Islands. It is near Stanley, just to the north west, and was formerly the location of the town barracks, which were attacked in Operation Azul, the 1982 Argentine Invasion of the Falkland Islands.


Stanley Harbour has experienced a number of shipwrecks. The remains of the following can still be seen:

<i>Lady Elizabeth</i> (1879) Place

Lady Elizabeth was an iron barque of 1,155 tons built by Robert Thompson Jr. of Southwick, Sunderland and launched on 4 June 1879. Robert Thompson Jr. was one of the sons of Robert Thompson Sr. who owned and operated the family ran shipyard J. L. Thompson & Sons. Thompson Jr. eventually left the family business in 1854 to start his own shipbuilding business in Southwick, Sunderland. The ship was built for John Wilson as a replacement for the 658-ton, 1869-built barque Lady Elizabeth which sank off Rottnest Island, Western Australia in 1878.

East Indiaman general name for any ship operating under charter or license to any of the East India Companies

East Indiaman was a general name for any sailing ship operating under charter or licence to any of the East India Companies of the major European trading powers of the 17th through the 19th centuries. The term is used to refer to vessels belonging to the Danish, Dutch (Oostindiëvaarder), English, French, Portuguese, or Swedish (ostindiefarare) East India companies.

Packet boat small boat designed for domestic mail, passenger, and freight transportation

Packet boats were medium-sized boats designed for domestic mail, passenger, and freight transportation in European countries and their colonies, including North American rivers and canals. They were used extensively during the 18th and 19th centuries and featured regularly scheduled service.


Early history

Stanley Harbour was originally known as Beau Port [1] (French), later Port Jackson, and has sometimes been known as "Port Stanley".

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. Français evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

First World War

In December 1914, the harbour was the base for a British Squadron lying in wait for the German Far East Squadron led by Admiral Graf von Spee. The first shots of the battle were fired by HMS Canopus, which had been grounded in Stanley Harbour as a guardship. Her gunfire was directed from a low hill on the peninsula, henceforth called Canopus Hill.

Second World War

During the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939, the Graf Spee concentrated fire upon the Exeter inflicting some 40 direct hits and causing major damage. On the 16 December, Exeter limped into Stanley Harbour, with 60 of the 600 crew dead and 49 wounded. The crew had to be boarded out in Stanley as Exeter was too badly damaged.

Falklands War and after

In the aftermath of the Falklands War, Stanley Harbour was the departure point for many of the Argentine POWs being transported back to Argentina.

Due to the lack of accommodation, for a while, British troops were billetted on boats in the harbour. This continued until adequate provision was made elsewhere.

Due to the construction of a port at Mare Harbour, Stanley Harbour no longer deals with much military transport. Instead, it is mainly used as the main freight gateway to the islands, and is visited frequently by cruise ships.


  1. Dom Pernety, Antoine-Joseph. Journal historique d'un voyage fait aux Iles Malouïnes en 1763 et 1764 pour les reconnoître et y former un établissement; et de deux Voyages au Détroit de Magellan, avec une Rélation sur les Patagons. Berlin: Etienne de Bourdeaux, 1769. 2 volumes, 704 pp. Online vol. 1 & vol. 2. Abridged English version.

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The Falkland Islands currently has three primary means of transport - road, sea and air. However, in 1946, when Sir Miles Clifford arrived as governor, there were no air services, no roads outside Stanley and an indifferent sea service. Sir Miles was instrumental in starting the Falkland Islands Government Air Service in December 1948. The inaugural flight involved a mercy flight from North Arm Settlement to Stanley to bring a girl with peritonitis to life-saving medical help in Stanley. There are now an international airport, a domestic airport, a number of airstrips, a growing road network and a much-improved ferry service between the two main islands.

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SMS <i>Leipzig</i> (1905) ship

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HMS <i>Glasgow</i> (1909) 1909 Bristol class light cruiser of the Royal Navy

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Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I Theater of operations during World War I

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Yorke Bay

Yorke Bay is a bay on East Falkland in the Falkland Islands. It is located half a mile north of Port Stanley Airport, four miles to the northeast of the capital city of Stanley, on a peninsula connected to the mainland by the Boxer Bridge and a narrow isthmus known as "The Neck". Gypsy Cove is a smaller bay located on the west side of Yorke Bay. Most cruise ships pass Yorke Bay and Gypsy Cove on the way to dock in Stanley Harbour. It faces northwards into Port William, with Canopus Hill to the south, and is known internationally as a breeding site for the threatened Magellanic penguin.

Bombardment of Papeete battle

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SMS <i>Nürnberg</i> (1906) 1906 Königsberg-class cruiser

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RAF Navy Point was a Royal Air Force base in the Falkland Islands. Set on a peninsula on which Canopus Hill, Stanley Airport and Gypsy Cove lie, together with a narrow spit of land known as Navy Point, which effectively divides Port William from Stanley Harbour. A small detachment of RAF SAR Helicopters of No. 1564 Flight RAF were based here until the Detachment was moved to RAF Mount Pleasant when the new base opened.