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Newsgroups: sci.military.naval Subject: Belgrano's captain book (long) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Merlin Dorfman) Date: Sun, 30 Mar 1997 18:49:27 GMT [ Article crossposted from sci.military.naval,rec.games.miniatures.historical ] [ Author was Jose Iribarne ] [ Posted on 27 Mar 1997 18:32:39 GMT ] This Article was found on one of the wargaming newsgroups. I thought it might be of interest to sci.military.naval. Merlin Dorfman DORFMAN@NETCOM.COM --------------------------------------------------------------- Here is my partial translation of the book by Hector E. Bonzo, "1093 crew members of the cruiser ARA 'General Belgrano'" (In Spanish), Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, 1992. I tried to be as literal as possible, even at the expense of proper English. Bonzo's style is ambiguous at times! These selected paragraphs deal mostly with Argentinean naval operations. Jose Iribarne ----------------------------------------------------------------------- pp. 35 "There were equipment or systems that could not anymore work at full capacity. Among the most important were the saturated steam boilers, that had been limited to 70% of their maximum combustion rate, even though that value could be exceeded in case of emergency. A problem in the pinion gear of the speed reduction box No. 4 limited the revolutions of the corresponding shaft. In concrete, the proud design speed of 32 knots was reduced to an acceptable maximum of 18.5 knots." pp. 60-73 "Operation Plan of Task Force 79 (FUERTAR 79) "... The Commander of Naval Operations, Vice Admiral Juan Jose Lombardo, had been designated Commander of the Theater of Operations South Atlantic (TOAS) and thereafter a schematic plan was issued as a basis for the formulation of contributing plans by his subordinate commands. Among these, the FUERTAR 79 made of the units of the sea fleet. "... One of the possible modes of action considered in the evaluation of options was the placement of the cruiser ARA 'General Belgrano' in the bay of Puerto Argentino [Port Stanley]. It would be used as a floating fortress. But that would imply loosing the degree of freedom that characterizes a moving ship. It would also create a static target for enemy weapons with higher range than the ship's artillery. "While this and other strategic possibilities were being evaluated, England declared a naval blockade of the Malvinas [Falklands] to begin on April 12. The Military Command canceled all maritime transport to the Island when the cruiser was not yet ready to get underway. "The British exclusion zone comprised a 200 mile circle centered in latitude 51 deg. 40 min. South and longitude 59 deg. 30 min. West (the geographic center of the Islas Malvinas). The interdiction was not in itself a reason to stop programmed actions in the zone, if they contributed to an important tactical movement. But from then on it was a risk factor in the planning, to be accepted or not according to the importance and transcendence of the objectives. "The defense of the islands was the principal part of the strategic concept. But it could not be complete without due consideration of a possible English attack to vital points of the continent. And this was reflected in the planning. "... From the strategic analysis done at the Headquarters of the Naval Command came the organization of the dependent units. Some of the variables and hypothesis considered to that end were: a) the English ships were in definite movement to the South; b) they could be re-supplied in Ascension Island, by gracious concession of the United States; c) the capacity of our units to operate by themselves and in groups; d) offensive and defensive capacities of each ship for the different missions deemed possible; e) requirements of mutual support; f) tactical and decoy combinations; g) other tactical and strategic conditions, although not being directly related to the English expeditionary force, that could influence in the course of operations. Case of Chile for example. "The following organization was thus defined for the FUERTAR 79, under Rear Admiral Gualter O. Allara: "Task Group 79.1. Capitan de Navio [Commander] Jose J. Sarcona - Carrier '25 de Mayo' - Embarked naval air group - Corvettes 'Guerrico', 'Drummond', 'Granville' - Destroyer 'Santisima Trinidad' - Tanker YPF 'Campo Duran' "Task Group 79.2. Capitan de Navio Juan C. Calmon - Destroyer 'Hercules' - Destroyers 'Piedra Buena', 'Bouchard', 'Segui', 'Py' - Tanker ARA 'Punta Medanos' "Task Group 79.3. Capitan de Navio Hector E. Bonzo - Cruiser 'General Belgrano' "Attached Units: - Icebreaker 'Almirante Irizar' - Polar ship 'Bahia Paraiso' (hospital ship) - LST 'Cabo San Antonio' - Aviso [patrol boat] 'Alferez Sobral' - Aviso 'Comodoro Somellera' - Tanker YPF 'Puerto Rosales' "The plan had a first phase appropriate for the situation on hand, but also established a second phase, to begin on command, to conduct deliberate actions. "Mission of the cruiser "For each Task Group and independent ships, there were instructions in the Operation Orders of the FUERTAR 79. The original instructions for the Task Group 79.3 were: a) get underway to the TOAS and position at the Isla de los Estados; maintain coastal route and hide your intentions; b) perform duties related to: - the guard of the southern access to the TOAS, - interception of enemy units, according to orders, - deterrence in the regional context; c) avoid tactical contact with enemy units equipped with surface to surface missiles; d) if necessary and according to the situation, proceed to re-supply at the Ushuaia Naval Base. "We were all conscious that the planned organization and assigned duties would soon be modified as the situation evolved. This contest of wills had two sides and the acts of one could change the attitude of the other. It was just April 12 and the original mission had to be established adopting a series of assumptions, as allowed by the planning doctrine. "A clear example is the task of the Belgrano regarding the guard of the southern access. This was related to the information that HMS 'Exeter' had crossed the Panama Canal from East to West, escorting a tanker. We assumed that they intended to help in the re-supply the British naval forces going around the Cape Horn. This assumption also mobilized the Naval Aviation into exploring the Sea of Drake, as obligatory zone of approach. "... When returning from Puerto Argentino to Puerto Belgrano on April 10, the corvette 'Granville' detected enemy radar emissions. That was the beginning of a situation of presence and menace with great transcendence to the fight in the sea. "The operation plan of FUERTAR 79 issued on April 12 gave as enemy capacity the arrival of submarines to the area of conflict. This was very likely and the emissions could well have that origin. The arrival of surface ships to the theater was not expected before April 23, given their position and advance. "Getting close to leave port came evidences that could control de evolution of the situation. Among them were: a) the English naval forces demonstrated high capacity for maneuver; b) the Argentinean forces were showing an adequate rate of preparation; c) diplomatic actions proceeded with the slowness characteristic to this type of negotiations; they showed little effective progress to revert the continuation of the 'politics by other means;' d) the military balance was favorable to the British, as far as intrinsic capacity; it could be counteracted by other factors inherent to the theater of operations; e) NATO would hardly leave the U.K. alone if the conflict intensified; the attitude of the U.S.A. would determine the decision; f) the presence of nuclear submarines in the zone, from the beginning of the operations, implied an evident unbalance against the Argentinean fleet; it was not ignored, but rather considered a calculated risk. "Since this last consideration pertains directly to the campaign of the 'Belgrano', we will give it a more detailed treatment. "Not only the Argentinean Navy was in disadvantage against a nuclear attack submarine. Only a few navies in the world would not have serious difficulties facing this type of unit, either in defense or attack. In the particular case of the Argentinean fleet, some elements can be cited to recognize this superiority: a) the submarine equaled and exceeded, submerged, the speed of the surface ships; b) its permanence under water was only limited by human endurance, since the battery discharge so typical of conventional submarines was not a factor; c) the fleet's sensors, as well as of antisubmarine naval aircraft, would hardly be able to detect a nuclear submarine before a torpedo launch; d) antisubmarine weapons were adequate for attacks against conventional units, but almost null against the mobility of the nuclear submarine; e) on the other hand the sensors of the English submarines had high detection and tracking capabilities, which added to its permanent concealment gave unlimited advantage to take the initiative; for the same reasons a combat between a conventional Argentinean submarine and a nuclear submarine was tactically unconceivable; f) weapon launch by the submarine could be the only way to reveal its presence, assuming that the submarine command did not make gross mistakes in its operation; g) we had knowledge of some satellite activity that could be used to locate the British submarines in favorable positions for future actions, notwithstanding any other information source used for that purpose; the conjunction satellite-nuclear submarine, if existent, was obviously of maximum danger and impossible to counteract with our opposing means. "This and much else did not impossibilitate our action, but made it more difficult. The degree of uncertainty was high and originated in the same analysis of aptitude and feasibility. "... The force distribution in the theater of operations considered finally a greater combat power to the North of the Islas Malvinas. It allowed a higher flexibility to the fleet in the approaching unbalance. The distribution reconciled the intrinsic capabilities of the cruiser as a first-line ship with a lower speed relative to the rest of the fleet. Therefore the decision to position the ship to the South and more precisely near the Isla de los Estados was the best use of each unit's possibilities and was tactically appropriate to the given hypothesis. "At the time that all of this taked place at Puerto Belgrano, the Area Naval Austral [Southern] lived a situation in which the conflict with Great Britain was just another ingredient. The border dispute with Chile was an operational constant that influenced the spirit and preparation of the forces organic to the South, more precisely to the big island of Tierra del Fuego. Thus, the presence of the cruiser in the zone would reinforce the regional deterrence, mission of the Command of the Area Naval Austral." pp. 92-103 "Adjustment in the plans of Task Group 79.3 "While fulfilling the mission of the TG 79.3 in the original plan, we knew it coresponded to a general concept of the operation and that it would be modified as soon as the Command obtained more information and intelligence on the enemy. This was also valid for other task groups and thus extensive to the collective Task Force 79. "The changes did not take long. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 24 as we navigate to the strait of Le Maire, we received a message from COFUERTAR 79 directed to all its subordinated units. The high priority given to the message already indicated its importance. That was confirmed after decipher. There were new tactical orders that imposed changes to the original plans of the Task Force, such as: - Change the organization of the task groups, transferring two destroyers from TG 79.2 to TG 79.3. Assign the fleet tanker YPF 'Puerto Rosales' to the latter. Thus, the TG 79.3 now comprised one cruiser, two destroyers and a tanker. - In the 'Situation' paragraph, the planning parameters included the confirmed approximation of the English expeditionary force to the theater of operations, the maintained aerial activity in the area Malvinas and the last results of diplomatic action in the international arena. - The deployment of units still considered achieving favorable relative positions. This concept would allow a timely projection and/or induce the enemy to split its forces. - Future operations were separated in two phases, the actual being the first; the second could lead to the effective use of the arms. Later on we learnt that the British had a similar scheme to define the times in the projection of actions. - The TG 79.1 (the '25 de Mayo' group) would take position to the North of the Islas Malvinas, along with TG 79.2 (the 'Hercules' group), with well defined missions. The Commander of the FUERTAR and his headquarter would embark in the carrier. - The TG 79.3 (the 'General Belgrano' group) would remain in the Southern zone, outside of the exclusion zone, between the Isla de los Estados and the Burdwood Bank. For the first phase, the previously assigned duties were still valid. For the second phase there was a new concept of interception and/or neutralization of enemy units, in coordination with other task groups. "... Reviewing the destroyers, we recalled that the 'Piedra Buena' had been reconditioned in 1976 and 1977 to recover capabilities after more than 30 years of life. It was not a make-up, but major surgery... In those years we saw the ship, brought originally from the U.S.A. to be dismantled, growing into a good fleet destroyer. Its artilliery was downgraded by the low performance of its fire control radar, but finally its surface to surface capacity had improved with the installation of an Exocet missile system. Its maximum speed was 24 knots and its anti-submarine capacity could be qualified as poor for conventional submarines and almost null for nuclear. "The destroyer ARA 'Bouchard' had similar characteristics, with a maximum speed of 22 knots. "... At 15:00 of Saturday, April 24, the destroyers 'Piedra Buena' and 'Bouchard' left the TG 79.2 operating to the North of the Islas Malvinas and took course to the South to join TG 79.3 according to the orders. "While the 'Bouchard' made a technical stop at Puerto Deseado, the 'Piedra Buena' arrived to the cruiser area on Wednesday, April 28 at 08:00. "... at 22:00 of that night [April 29] the destroyer 'Bouchard' was at 15 miles to the NW of our position and requested authorization to join TG 79.3, completing the organization of the group." pp. 105-106 "Order for Action " On the afternoon of Thursday, April 29, a message from the Commander of the TF 79 was received, giving specific tasks for each of the units of the Force. The direct action began to take shape. "For our TG the order was to leave the Miguel area [N of Isla de los Estados] to the Julian area [SW of Burdwood bank] on Saturday, May 1, at 12:00. A series of tactical manoevers had to be performed, that could induce the English forces to move some units in anticipation of future encounters. We would pass near the Burdwood Bank, a zone of much shallow depth than the surrounding sea, which favors surface transit since it limits the detection and maneuver capacity of a likely killer nuclear submarine... "... We did not believe that the phase 2 had started when receiving that message, but it would not be far. The assigned task would be a part of a more ambitious task... For now, we only foresaw a fast and abrupt development starting at 12:00 of May 1. "Our idea was corroborated by a complement, which helped interpret the strategic concept of our superiors. A message of the same afternoon of April 29 eliminated all restrictions in the use of the weapons, after identification of a target as enemy." [Note of the T.: I had this date wrong in a previous posting] pp. 147-151 "Change in Tasks "While on the afternoon of May 1 we had accomplished the movements according to the orders for TF 79, the English fleet seemed to be preparing or beginning a landing action on the Islas Malvinas. This was suggested by intelligence data available to our superior command, which showed the movement of naval and aeronaval enemy assets. They were carrying out a persistent and deep aerial bombardment, using aircraft apparently based in carriers located East of Puerto Argentino. "A general situation view showed a task group at 80 miles SE of the Malvinas, comprising a carrier and several frigates accompanied by large and medium auxiliary ships, which may include troop transports. Another group to the NE of the Island comprised one carrier, six destroyers or frigates and several large ships, distributed in a radius of 30 miles. Other units farther were converging to the zone of operations. "These naval dispositions, added to the aerial movement and the naval support fire, indicated a possible attachment of the English groups to a specific task and a defined area. The situation suggested a good opportunity for an offensive raid on them. These should have been the thoughts of the Command, since a few minutes after 20:30 of Saturday, the officer in charge of the cipher brought me an urgent message from the Commander of FUERTAR 79 with new orders for its subordinate groups. "The text of the message, and the operation concept that it reflected, leave no doubts about the offensive character of the action, which could well be defined as a pincer movement. The Northern groups would make an approach in the night, to get into favorable relative positions for joint or successive actions of the ships and naval aircraft. Our TG should move more to the East, headed towards the enemy meridian, to wear with missiles the enemy units operating to the South of the Malvinas. If they were not really tied to an amphibious operation over Puerto Argentino or other zone nearby, the menace of the enemy naval power would become a real obstacle to the mission, given their numerical and technical superiority. "For our TG, the movement that we would perform from the South could evolve in several different alternatives such as: the direct entry into the exclusion zone, tactical contact with English ships, the defense against an air attack and/or the action of a nuclear submarine. Anyway, the offensive work of the cruiser and the two destroyers would be a consequence of the pressure exerted by the rest of the TF, since we did not have an assigned material objective, but rather the attack to targets of opportunity , as stated previously. "... After no few and clarifying discussions regarding the best mode of action, I sent the destroyers a message to complement the change in our task. The text indicated an anticipated movement starting at 05:30 of May 2, including a course 335 deg. that would take us closer to the English TF. Obviously the transit would be through the exclusion zone. "... At the same time the Northern task groups continued approaching their objective, which would be the execution of an aerial attack on the English force, apparently tied to the landing. However, the meteorological conditions near the carrier began to look outright unfavorable for the operation of the embarked air group. The wind speed had dropped below the minimum required to launch the aircraft. "The Skyhawk (A-4Q) with the required load of bombs and a full load of fuel would have a range a little over 200 miles. That would be the distance to the enemy at launch time. This would happen at the early dawn of May 2. "As the distances got closer and the minutes passed, the wind speed continued to drop (unlikely that time of the year)... "This was not the only obstacle, since passed midnight an enemy aircraft was detected, possibly a Sea Harrier in exploration orbit about 100 miles to the SE. Its maneuvers and approximations to 60/70 miles of the Argentinean ships left no doubts about being detected. Thus an important element of our force was lost, since the surprise was vital to compensate in part for other weaknesses. "... at 01:30 the Commander of the Theater of Operations informed the Commander of the FUERTAR 79 that the aerial action of the enemy over Puerto Argentino had stopped and their carriers were moving away from the Island. It was not hard to conclude that the British TF was free from the possible attachment and thus recovered its freedom of action. "... It was not a surprise then when we received a message at 05:00 cancelling the continuation of the operation and issuing new dispositions for all the Force. In particular for our group, the order indicated a waiting station between the areas Ignacio and Julian [S of Burdwood bank]." [Note of the T.: the 'Belgrano' was torpedoed at 16:01 that day, while underway to its new patrol area]Back to top
Newsgroups: sci.military.naval Subject: Rocket pods (was: Re: Argentine Falklands Strategies) From: John.Salt@brunel.ac.uk (John D Salt) Date: 31 Mar 1997 14:10:09 +0100 In article <email@example.com>,Back to top
wrote: >In <1997Mar19.firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com writes: >> [snips] >>Also, how about placing a couple of rocket pods on the aircraft. Firing >>semi-armor piercing HE/Fragmention warheads, a salvo of these rockets should >>have caused some pretty serious damage (and that's only from one aircraft!). > >That's exactly what happened to one of the ships in the San Carlos area. The >T21 on point duty near Fanning Head? got the shit shot out of her by rocket >pods after she had been knocked about by iron bombs and her weaponry put out >of action. AFAIR she only had a few GPMG left to pop off at the Pucara that >ripped open her port? side with rockets. I can't find any reference to this in Middlebrook's "Task Force" (the only source I have to hand right now). The Type 21 you are thinking of was presumably HMS Ardent, but she was believed to be hit by nine bombs, seven of which exploded. Commander Alan West, her Captain, provides this account in "Task Force": "Up forward it felt as though a giant hand was holding the ship by the stern and whacking it down on the sea. There was a great deal of smoke going up about a hundred feet in the air. I saw our Sea Cat launcher, on top of the hangar, go straight up in the air and fall back on to the top of the flight deck and, sadly, on to the top of my supply officer, Richard Banfield. Also killed were John Sephton and Brian Murphy, the Lynx helicopter pilot and observer who were both seen firing at the attacking aircraft -- John with a Sterling sub-machine-gun, real cowboy stuff, and Brian had a Bren gun; he was last seen firing straight up into the air at the plane whose bomb killed him." In total, twenty-two Ardents were killed in this action. The only other Type 21 loss was HMS Antelope, sunk when an unexploded bomb being worked on detonated, killing Steward Stephens and Sgt. Prescott, RE. I can find no reference to rocket damage in the order of battle in appendix 1 of the book, but I seem to remember that newspaper coverage at the time mentioned Aermacchis with rocket pods attacking, I believe, HMS Coventry. Does anyone have any better references on this? >>Both these scenarios would have given them a limited "stand-off" attack >>capability and would have probably been more effective than the bombs. Weight for weight, I would think iron bombs a more effective payload for anti-shipping work, always assuming you have the nous to fuze them correctly. If you are attacking at 300-400 knots, I would think that you are going to pass directly over your target whether you use bombs, rockets, or cannon. All the best, John D Salt Dept of Comp Sci & IS, Brunel Univ, Uxbridge, Middx UB8 3PH
Newsgroups: sci.military.naval Subject: Re: Argentine SS in the Falklands (LONG) From: John.Salt@brunel.ac.uk (John D Salt) Date: 19 Mar 1997 18:48:00 -0000 In article <01bc33e1$a91030c0$LocalHost@raptor>, Christoph SchlegelBack to top
wrote: >John D Salt wrote ><firstname.lastname@example.org>... >> In article <01bc33c8$5799bc20$LocalHost@raptor>, >> >> >Still, you couldn't take any of the Argentinian Diesels out in the >> >Falklands War, could you? >> >> Eh? Are you saying "Santa Fe" wasn't a diesel boat? > >Ouups, that's exactly what happens when you reply to something without >doing proper research before. > >Maybe you could enlighten me a bit about Santa Fe? OK, you asked for it... :-) The following is composed from a precis from Martin Middlebrook's "Task Force: The Falklands War", revised edn, Penguin, 1982, and from memory of a book called "Operation Paraquat", and personal communication from a close friend who was there. Santa Fe was spotted on the surface by "Humphrey", the Wessex 3 belonging to HMS Antrim, operating as flag of the task group to re-take South Georgia in company with HM Ships Plymouth and Brilliant,the RFAs Brambleleaf and Tidespring, and the ice patrol ship Endurance, which had been in the area since the initial Argentine invasion. "Humphrey", flown by Lt-Cdr Ian Stanley, attacked with two Mk. XI depth-charges, obtaining a near-miss and a direct hit which bounced off the casing before exploding. The Argentine turned backed towards Grytviken, from which she had just come, still sailing on the surface and trailing oil. Other helos now joined the fray, and, as the saying goes, "attacked with all available weapons". Brilliant's Lynx dropped a homing torpedo, which missed, but convinced Captain Bicain of the Santa Fe not to submerge. A Wasp from Endurance, flown by Lt-Cdr J A Ellerbeck, made the first Royal Navy missile attack in time of war. AS-12 missiles hit the Santa Fe's fibreglass fin, doing little material damage, but blowing the legs off an Argentine PO who was gallantly returning fire with a machine-gun. At one point a helo crew engaged the Santa fe with sub-machine gun fire, having exhausted their other munitions: a Browning pistol remained holstered, as that was considered unlikely to be effective against a submarine target. Santa Fe was run into Grytviken harbour, listing badly, and was captured there without further bloodshed a few hours later when troops of "M" company, formed from SBS, RM M&AW cadre and SAS mountain troop, landed under the guns of Antrim and Plymouth and re-took Grytviken. It was at this point that the task group commander made the memorable signal "Be pleased to inform her Majesty that the Union Flag now flies above the White Ensign over Grytviken, and that South Georgia is now once again under the governance desired by its inhabitanta. God save the Queen!" These stirring words were in all the newspapers in Britain the next morning, whose editors possibly did not realise that the formula had been kept on a file card for some time beforehand, and were originally the work of a signals yeoman. After the local Argentine surrender, the only fatality of the action occured when CPO Artuso, aboard the Santa Fe, was shot by his Royal Marine guard, who wrongly believed him to be attempting to open a scuttling valve. Captain Bicain of the Santa Fe and Captain Lagos, a marine Officer and commander of the Grytviken garrison, were both court-martialled for their part in the battle. Ian Stanley was awarded a well-deserved George Medal for this and other actions, including the rescue of SAS troops stranded on Fortuna Glacier in white-out conditions that had already downed two other helos. "Humphrey" can still be seen at the Fleet Air Arm museum at Yeovilton, complete with the tail-light pilfered from an Argentine Pucara when Antrim's stock of spares gave out -- NATO standardization is a wonderful thing. Also on display are nameplates from the Santa Fe, donated to the museum by my friend Richard Hurley, who, as Lt. Hurley RN, was in the Antrim at the time. He also has a certificate from the Santa Fe, completed with the official ship's stamp, declaring him to be an honorary submariner in the Argentine Navy -- presumably she had been doing duty at a Navy Day some time shortly before the war. Lt-Cdr Richard Hurley (retd) will be getting married on May 17th. Should I pass on the best wishes of the group? :-) All the best, John D Salt Dept of Comp Sci & IS, Brunel Univ, Uxbridge, Middx UB8 3PH
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