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"A Failure in the Falklands" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian05 Apr 2022 4:47 p.m. PST

Amid an unexpected war, British forces lost one their most valuable assets—the loaded cargo ship Atlantic Conveyor—in large part through lack of foresight.

USNI/Naval History Magazine: link

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2022 4:50 p.m. PST

Falklands – Malvinas


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2022 6:43 p.m. PST

You tell 'em, Dr. Raul.

That's a great print, and quite an interesting article.

David Manley05 Apr 2022 6:45 p.m. PST

The larger failure was invading in the first place

David Manley05 Apr 2022 11:47 p.m. PST

The thing about not fitting defensive systems to the ship comes up a lot. It was actually irrelevant. There were no hard kill systems available that could have been fitted (a popular criticism is that Phalanx could have been fitted but wasn't – not possible as the UK didn't have Phalanx at the time and only received its first sets into the UK towards the end of the conflict). The lack of chaff is also cited as a criticism, but this would have been ineffective – chaff deployment requires the cloud and the deploying ship to be in specific positions relative to each other and the threat to be fully effective – AC was unlikely to be able to deploy chaff effectively to do this. But even if she had the radar cross section of the ship was so large that chaff would have been ineffective anyway; she was simply to "large" a target for an Exocet seeker to ignore in favour of the much "smaller" chaff cloud.

nickinsomerset06 Apr 2022 3:55 a.m. PST

Falklands is the Falklands,

Tally Ho!

microgeorge Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2022 7:47 a.m. PST

He who holds the ground gets to name it.

gregmita206 Apr 2022 11:52 a.m. PST

The larger failure was invading in the first place

This article is purely about British failures. Invading was an Argentine failure.

The thing about not fitting defensive systems to the ship comes up a lot. It was actually irrelevant.

Thanks for the insights here. Was there anything that could have been done to improve the Atlantic Conveyor's survivability?

David Manley06 Apr 2022 1:20 p.m. PST

Yes, layer 1 of the survivability onion – "don't be there". Assigning one of the Sea Wolf equippwd T22B1s as a goalkeeper would have helped

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2022 1:46 a.m. PST

With the situation the Brits were in in 1982 there was little that would have improved her defense. What was needed was a full sized carrier that would push the air threat further away. Prior to the Falklands war there were talks in some circles here in the US of doing away with the super carriers and going over to a system similar to the Brits with their jump carriers. After the war no one took such talk seriously.

gregmita209 Apr 2022 4:51 p.m. PST

Assigning one of the Sea Wolf equippwd T22B1s as a goalkeeper would have helped

I guess the big failure was not recognizing how valuable the AC was at the time? The Sea Wolves were very rare.

Blaubaer10 Apr 2022 1:50 a.m. PST

One argentinien submarine launch 8 torpedos at a british aircraft carrier. 4 normal ones and 4 type "SST". The torpedos do not work, the submarine get away undetected.
The Falkland war was much more of a minor victory, than many people know.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2022 3:32 p.m. PST

True… sabotage from our dear Chilenian friends who works on Storage of them…


gregmita211 Apr 2022 10:07 p.m. PST

If you guys are talking about the San Luis, she never fired at a carrier, and was only able to target British frigates. The SST-4 torpedoes had all kinds of quality issues, and AEG, the manufacturer, had to perform upgrades after the war. There's no need to libel Chileans over this.
The San Luis' performance was very good though. She was a very modern boat, and the British expended a lot of resources trying unsuccessfully to hunt her down.

Warspite126 Apr 2022 3:09 p.m. PST

I believe that an examination of the Argentinian torpedoes later revealed that wires in the SST-4 torpedoes had been crossed during routine maintenance.

As to sabotage… while France was criticised for supplying the AM39 and MM38 Exocets, and for having a team on the ground to assist with the AM39s (at least at the start of the conflict) it is significant that none of the AM39s appears to have exploded. Neither Atlantic Conveyor nor HMS Sheffield exhibited the characteristic damage associated with an Exocet hit.

Captain Salt's emphasis that the Sheffield missile had exploded sounds a little like "Methinks he doth protest too much". In each case it appears that the unexpended fuel and the contents of the target ships triggered uncontrollable fires.

The MM38 which hit HMS Glamorgan DID explode and that damage was quite obvious. The two MM38s had been removed from a damaged light frigate and were fired from shore. Therefore French technicians would have had no recent access to them.

Just a theory.

Lest we forget, the missile or missiles with struck AC had been chaffed-off from other ships and simply flew on to find another target.

On the question of whether chaff would have been of any use to AC, I believe the captain had asked for it and been told he would not need it. My understanding of the Exocet's working is that the missile aims at the middle of the detected mass of the target. As the attack came from the port rear quarter, a chaff bloom on one side or the other would have created a larger 'area of interest' which the missile/s would then have to average to find the centre. It is possible that this chaff bloom could have caused one or both to narrowly miss AC by pushing the averaged point-of-aim slightly away from the ship.
Merely possible – not likely.


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