The Rangatira was originally a New Zealand ferry, whose sister ship had turned turtle and sank as its stern doors had been left open. She had been a floating hotel for oil workers off Scotland, and after that it was laid up in Falmouth and then fitted out with passenger bunks for R.A.F. and Royal Engineers bound for the Falklands. It had Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns installed; two in front of the bridge and two on the funnel deck. Officially, it was Naval Party 2070, with fifty-five Royal Navy men on board and a merchant navy crew running the vessel, which carried a thousand passengers. As the Royal Navy compliment was first on board, they commandeered the Sporting Mans Bar, which was a leftover from its floating hotel days. The doors were sealed off and a sign was painted on their outside, Navy Party 2070 Only, No Others Admitted. The troops were on a ration of 2 cans of beer a day, Stephen and shipmates “ration” was bottomless.