Falkland war

Naval discussions covering the latter half of the 20th Century.
Francis Marliere
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Falkland war

Post by Francis Marliere » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:05 pm

Gentlemen,

I have an interest in the 1982 Falkland war and have a couple of questions.

Argentina had 3 Fletcher class destroyers (Rosales, Almirante Storni, Almirante Domecq Garcia) which were paid off in 1982 and 1983. I wonder if this vessels were still operational during the war because they did not take part in operations.

I do not understand the logic behind the decision to send the submarine Santa Fe in South Georgia. As far as I understand things, his mission was to bring some reinforcement and supply. IMHO, it makes more sense to send surface ships, either a dedicated transport such as Bahia Pareiso or a couple of destroyers or frigates, which could quickly reach South Georgia, unload then leave the area before the British ships arrive. Did I miss something ?

The Royal Navy had several ships in reserve at the beginning of the war. HMS Intrepid was made operationnal and sent south but some other ships that may have been very helpfull (HMS Bulwark, HMS Tiger, HMS Blake, ...) were not. I wonder wether it was for 'good' reasons (it would be too difficult or/and too long to put the ship back in commission) or for 'bad' (political or budgetary) reasons. Any thoughs ?


Thanks for any help,

Francis Marliere

Steve Crandell
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Re: Falkland war

Post by Steve Crandell » Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:39 pm

I believe it would have taken too much time to bring ships out of reserve, provide them with crew, and train them to the level of competency needed to operate in a war zone.

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RF
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Re: Falkland war

Post by RF » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:27 am

Francis Marliere wrote:
I have an interest in the 1982 Falkland war and have a couple of questions.

Argentina had 3 Fletcher class destroyers (Rosales, Almirante Storni, Almirante Domecq Garcia) which were paid off in 1982 and 1983. I wonder if this vessels were still operational during the war because they did not take part in operations.
I'm not sure that these ships were fully operational at the time. As with the carrier Vienticento de Mayo the Argentine navy may have also preferred not to risk losing these ships and kept them in home waters. Belgrano was regarded as more expendable.
I do not understand the logic behind the decision to send the submarine Santa Fe in South Georgia. As far as I understand things, his mission was to bring some reinforcement and supply. IMHO, it makes more sense to send surface ships, either a dedicated transport such as Bahia Pareiso or a couple of destroyers or frigates, which could quickly reach South Georgia, unload then leave the area before the British ships arrive. Did I miss something ?
Basically the same answer - less risk. Bear in mind that Souith Georgia was further away from the Argentine mainland and that surface ships would have no air cover in the vicinity of South Georgia.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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RF
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Re: Falkland war

Post by RF » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:30 am

Steve Crandell wrote:I believe it would have taken too much time to bring ships out of reserve, provide them with crew, and train them to the level of competency needed to operate in a war zone.
In which case there is a clear lack of proper pre-planning for the invasion of the Falklands, together with a mis-reading of the British reaction.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Falkland war

Post by RF » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:33 am

Francis Marliere wrote:
The Royal Navy had several ships in reserve at the beginning of the war. HMS Intrepid was made operationnal and sent south but some other ships that may have been very helpfull (HMS Bulwark, HMS Tiger, HMS Blake, ...) were not. I wonder wether it was for 'good' reasons (it would be too difficult or/and too long to put the ship back in commission) or for 'bad' (political or budgetary) reasons. Any thoughs ?
Britain had NATO commitments elsewhere and there was a desire to not leave the Russians with the impression that Britain was over stretched. Don't forget that at the time the Cold War was still on.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Francis Marliere
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Re: Falkland war

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:10 am

Gentlemen,

thanks for your answers.

However, I still fail to understand why the ARA send Santa Fe. The submarine was too old to fight and too slow to reach South Georgia before the RN. From my armchair admiral's point of view, it makes more sense to send surface ships that can unload and leave SG before the enemy is there. Santa Fe left port on 9 (some sources say 17 April) ; if the reinforcement is loaded on a Sumner class destroyer, this ships can reach South Georgia on 13 April, unload on 14 and leave before HMS Conqueror begins his patrol in the area. Even a fast transport could have made the job. I wonder if Argentina has one avilable at the time (Bahia Paraiso returned to port a bit late, either 14 or 18 avril from different sources, Bahia Buen Suceso and Almirante Irizar were busy bringing reinforcement and supply to the Falklands).

I also fail to see how can NATO commitments explain why HMS Bulwark (and other warships) were not reactivated. Could you please elaborate ?

Bestn

Francis Marliere

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Re: Falkland war

Post by RF » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:40 am

Francis Marliere wrote:
However, I still fail to understand why the ARA send Santa Fe. The submarine was too old to fight and too slow to reach South Georgia before the RN. From my armchair admiral's point of view, it makes more sense to send surface ships that can unload and leave SG before the enemy is there. Santa Fe left port on 9 (some sources say 17 April) ; if the reinforcement is loaded on a Sumner class destroyer, this ships can reach South Georgia on 13 April, unload on 14 and leave before HMS Conqueror begins his patrol in the area. Even a fast transport could have made the job. I wonder if Argentina has one avilable at the time (Bahia Paraiso returned to port a bit late, either 14 or 18 avril from different sources, Bahia Buen Suceso and Almirante Irizar were busy bringing reinforcement and supply to the Falklands).
This is argued post war with a hindsight that at the time the Argentines would not have. Santa Fe may be slow, but as a least valuable vessel it is the expendable candidate that can be used. Also take into account that the Argentines may not have expected South Georgia to be retaken first because to do so the British naval task force had to divide in the face of likely air attack.
I also fail to see how can NATO commitments explain why HMS Bulwark (and other warships) were not reactivated. Could you please elaborate ?
This will be a matter of location and logistics. The Soviets would be aware of the approximate state of the ships but not the precise timings of getting them into full duty. Sending them into the bottom half of the South Atlantic takes them out of other possible operations completely. Don't forget that the Falklands are almost a third of the Earth's surface away from Britain, they are very distant waters even from the central Atlantic.
Leaving Bulwark where it was without formal reactivation was probably the best and most economic option.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

paul.mercer
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Re: Falkland war

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:09 pm

Gentlemen,
Re HMS Tiger, herewith something I got off Google.
In 1978 Tiger was placed in reserve, subsequently being placed on the disposal list in 1979. Both Tiger and her sister-ship Blake were listed as part of the Standby Squadron, and moored inactive at HMNB Chatham.
When the Falklands War broke out in early April 1982, both ships were rapidly surveyed and it was determined both were in very good material shape, so much so that both were drydocked (Tiger in Portsmouth and Blake at Chatham) and recommissioning work was begun.
During reconstruction and in the following years, material cannibalised from Lion was used to patch both Tiger and Blake. Tiger reportedly had so much material from Lion that her crew nicknamed her "HMS Liger".
Whilst there was speculation that their 6-inch guns would be useful for shore bombardment, the real reason for their potential deployment was the size of their flight decks, (the 3rd largest in the Royal Navy at that time after the aircraft carriers Hermes and Invincible), and the potential to use them as mobile forward operating and refuelling bases for Task Force Harriers. (Blake had already operated RAF Harriers briefly for proving trials in 1971, and Harriers had refuelled on Tiger). Their benefit would be more as platforms to extend the range and endurance of the Harriers and as a refuelling stop on the way back to the carriers, rather than as somewhere to operate offensive missions from, or as somewhere to place a pair of Sea Harriers as an extended-range CAP (Combat Air Patrol) ahead of the two carriers (and reducing their own exposure to air strikes), but the need to take off vertically rather than the use of a ski-jump severely reduced the Harriers' endurance and weapons carrying capability, and in late May 1982 after the loss of the destroyer Sheffield and the Argentian cruiser General Belgrano the refits were stopped.
There were also doubts about the two ships' self-defence capabilities, (the 6-inch and 3-inch armament had never been reliable) and this coupled with the large complement (and potential loss of life were one of the cruisers to be lost), caused much anxiety in the Admiralty. That, along with where to find 1,800 capable and qualified crew in a hurry at a time when the Royal Navy was already downsizing, sealed the two ships fate. The UK simply could not afford its own Belgrano disaster, either materially or politically.

Francis Marliere
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Re: Falkland war

Post by Francis Marliere » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:28 pm

Gentlemen,

thanks for your answers. However, I have other questions if you don't mind.

During the landing at San Carlos, the battery of Rapiers was among the first things to be unloaded. The SAM were in position on midday on 21st May, but unfortunately were not operationnal untill the 25th. Do you know why ?

The british were fully aware that the Sea Harrier, due to their short range, would spend most of their flying time in transit between the carriers and the area of operations, and very little (10 to 30 mn) on CAP protecting the beachhead. It's the reason why Atlantic Conveyor and Stromness were loaded with thousands of aluminium plates intended for the building of an auxiliary airbase where Sea Harriers and choppers would be able to land, refuel and take-off. This auxiliary base became operational on 4th June. I wonder why such a priority task took so long to perform.

In "Amphibious Assault Falklands", à book written by Michael Clapp, the man who commanded the amphibious group, the author explains why he made the choice to land at San Carlos. Basically, the beaches were large enough, far enough from Stanley to be safe from a counter attack but close enough for a British assault, and well defended from the swell, submarines, Exocet and conventional air attacks.
Unfortunately, the books don't tell why other places that also look fine as a landing place, such as Mare Harbour and East Cove, were not chosen. From an armchair admiral's perspective, these places were far enough from Stanley and offered good defense against Exocet, submarines, and swell. They also had two advantages over San Carlos : they were closer to the carrier and hence reduced the transit time of the Sea Harrier, and the were a bit more far away for the FAA planes.
So, why San Carlos ? I guess there must be something I don't know such as size and / or gradient of the beaches, depth of water, etc. Any thoughs ?

Last thing, I wonder how did warship made long range communications when not fitted with SATCOM (ARA ships and some British ones such as Intrepid). Could their communication be intercepted and their location determined like in WWII ?

Thanks for any help,

Francis Marliere

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