1982: attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

Discussion in 'Submariners' started by HarryBosch, Dec 27, 2007.

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  1. I was looking for something about HMS Alacrity but then came across a Wiki link to the ARA San Luis. It apparently fired German-made SST-4s at Brilliant and Yarmouth on 1 May and then attacked Alacrity and Arrow coming out of the Falkland Sound on 10 May. Of the latter, the entry reports: "San Luis detected the two ships and fired two SST-4 torpedoes upon them. But the first torpedo didn't leave its tube and the second one was fooled by the Arrow's torpedo decoy".

    I honestly never knew the Argie sub threat was so real or that they had mounted attacks against our surface fleet. I would be interested to know why you think none of our ships were hit by her and how she managed to escape being sunk by us. Any thoughts or ideas would be welcome.

    I've put it in here because I'm especially interested in the submariners take on the San Luis but comments from any of the skimmers involved would also be very welcome!

    PS I have searched the site for ARA San Luis, and variations thereof.
  2. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    HB found this


    There seems to be a lot of bits and pieces on the site, but haven't had time to go right through it yet.

    Did find (on another site in the same search) a claim that Margaret Thatcher threatened to Nuke Argentina unless the French gave over the deactivacation codes for the Exocets. Again something that I had not heard before, author has no way of substansiating the clain though and he is plugging a new book.
  3. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    The submarine threat was certainly taken seriously prior to the landing, but seemed to be considered a much less serious threat after Santa Fe got zapped at South Georgia. Perhaps "intelligence" reported the return of San Luis on the mainland.

    I remember Arrow being sent full pelt between the islands to check for mines and hostile forces early on & remember the Argentines reporting afterwards that they had attempted a torpedo attack, but I don't remember a surface ship reporting it actually at the time. My thoughts were that two & two were put together afterwards, identifying which ship was in the area at the time & was therefore the one attacked. Happy to to stand corrected on that, but as we (Argonaut) were operating in the Sound at the time, you would've thought ASW measures would've been heavily enforced if a known attack took place. They weren't.

    There is a reef, I seem to recall, which prevented submarines operating close inshore to the West of West Falkland, maybe that's why after the landings we didn't bother looking for them as we were on the other side of it.

    Prior to the landings ourselves & Ardent spent a couple of days around Ascension chasing a "positive contact" which was eventually classified as a whale.
  4. wave_dodger

    wave_dodger War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Probably lots that we don't know politically and militarilly. I'd never really thought too much about the sub threat - makes the success all the more amazing.
  5. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Cheers for that guys. Yes after Santa Fe we bootnecks thought that was the end of the sub threat. Travelling down on the Canberra my troop was billeted below the waterline and we accepted the line given to us that Argy subs were either captured, sunk or at home and that in any case we were surround by ASW assets. I see now that we were subjected to a form of hypnosis, which worked because we really wanted to believe it! :thumright:

    Here's the link to Alacrity where it was first mentioned, and to the San Luis.

    I understand Brendan (Pompey men of steel) was out there on Alacrity? Perhaps he can help to fill us in. Anyone from Arrow on here to confirm use of a decoy?
  6. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Janner, So the Argy guys on that site are saying they launched 4 of them at our ships but that each one failed. Crew error or crap torpedos?
  7. wave_dodger

    wave_dodger War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Thats quite a freak claim and thought provoking - what if!

    I wonder what the current Joint Planning Assumption is for the Argentine ASW threat? Wonder how we'd manage!
  8. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Up there with incorrectly set fuzes for low level bombing runs ... If the torpedo claims are true .... well, what are the chances .... ? Lucky for us doesn't even begin to describe it.
  9. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    The probable answer is a mixture of the two, I always kept as far away from the fore ends as possible, greasy places, which if you were around at the wrong time could involve a lot of heavy work, as a Sparker I had a duty to keep my hands in a soft and delicate state.

    Torpedoes need a lot of attention and expert maintainance, I know that our Submariners come out of the top drawer for both, I suspect that the Argies didn't.

    Bear in mind that the salvo that sank the Belgrano, were mark 8 torpedoes, a type that started service before WW2. For fish to remain in service that long they had to be fairly simple and reliable, no magic guidance systems etc. less to go wrong. But they did have to be serviced regularly, to do this on the D/E Boats that I was in was a major exercise, the foreends had to be cleared out, fish in the tubes had two be pulled back by hand, serviced and re loaded into the tubes. This was done on a regular basis during my service and would continue to the present day in the RN. Would smaller Navies have the same training and diligence? In the main I would doubt it. I its interesting that the Skipper of the Conqueror chose these fish over the more sophisticated ones that he had aboard.

    I'm sure that one of the knuckle draggers will surface on site shortly and correct my mistakes. :dwarf:

    Below from Wiki.
    21" (53.3 cm) Mark 8** (Mark VIII**)
    Ship Class Used On Submarines
    Date Of Design About 1925
    Date In Service 1927
    Weight 3,452 lbs. (1,566 kg)
    Overall Length 259 in (6.579 m)
    Explosive Charge 805 lbs. (365 kg) Torpex
    Range / Speed 5,000 yards (4,570 m) / 45.5 knots
    Power Burner-cycle
    Notes: The Mark VIII was the first burner-cycle torpedo in service. Although the original design dates from the 1920s, those manufactured during and after World War II were to a much-modified design. This torpedo was still in use as late as 1982 when three of them were used during the Falklands War to sink the Argentine cruiser Belgrano. It may still be in use in the navies of other nations that Britain has supplied with submarine
  10. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    El Capitano of Conx knew the mk8ts would work when he wanted them to. The Mk24's (mod 1's)? were very unreliable. The Mk24 mod 2 was a different weapon altogether (the Mk24 mod 2 was a different weapon altogether).
    I remember listening to a recording in SAAU 2 made by one of our boats during the kerfuffle. In typical tape training mode it was........example number three. What is the operator listening to. All that could be heard was a faint hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm in among the background noise and bio. All the guys who knew their stuff said the same thing, main motor hum from a diesel boat on batteries....AND to hear that you have to be steely eyed close the DEMON cut showed a MMSF. It wasn't Onyx either!
  11. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Aren't the Belgrano and other Argentinian assets ex RN vessels and so the MOD would know what type of torpedo would need to be used to say...punch a hole in the hull of the Belgrano? Because the modern fish would just bounce off the hull...... :thumright:
  12. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Belgrano was Brooklyn-class USS Phoenix completed 1938. The carrier was ex-RN Light Fleet originally laid down 1944ish and the 2 Type 42s were built directly for Argentina.
  13. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Attack by torpedo from San Luis is confirmed when she attacked the
    Arrow and Alacrity -----by the Brit . Accounts. San Luis torpedo computer was non functional so One torpedo was fired in ''hand'' control on sonar bearings from 5,000yrds. The controlling guide wire broke after firing and 2 mins into the run . However Arrows decoy--unifoxer ?? when recovered was damaged as thought hit by a uw weapon.
    Taken from The RN and the Falklands war -- David Brown based on RN
    narratives RN Historical section.

    :nemo: :nemo:
  14. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Okay that would explain Belgrano's skin as being fairly thick and the only thing good against her would be WWII fish, and I'm sure the rest would be in Jane's right...

    Also, wasn't the Conqueror on station 3 Months before hostilities? met some of the weapons rates in Faslane later that year during our Wups on Onondaga... :thumright:
  15. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    from the book i've just been reading conquer had only practice torpedos on her when called to the falklands, she went into gib to take her fish from the oracle, so she could'nt have been on station. also an argie ex-guppy class was caught on the surface by a chopper which managed to ventilate her fin, the guppy then beached itself and abandoned ship.
  16. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Conqueror left Faslane first week in April 1982 . Spartan left from Gib about the same time . Splendid was on the way south aswell by then .
    Courageous left about second week April 82 to go South. Valiant followed .
    Onyx also went .

    :nemo: :nemo:
  17. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Actually this got me re-reading Max Hastings account of the Falklands and here is a quote from the book.

    For some reason, I thought one of em was already down there when hostilities broke out, along the same lines as the SAS who were down there just prior...just my tinfoil hat reaction... :bball:
  18. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    Even when on exercise submarines will carry warshot weapons. It all depends what the boats programme is. Most will be carrying a Bravo load more or less permanently. An alpha load will be carried by the boats deploying to operational areas and the contingency boat will also be well armed!
    Work up boats will be carrying a Charlie load, a mix of warshot for self defence and practice weapons including spaceweights.

    Mk24's, even the useless mod1's were designed to run under the target and detonate thereby lifting the hull out of the water and breaking its back. I don't think 'thick skin' would be any use in this regard. As the weapon explodes the water under it will not give so the nearest thing has to which is the target hull.

    One thing is apparent about the Argentine torpedo attack. If you don't practice prctice practice then no amount of intent or aggression will succeed. Our boys did succeed because we lived it and it was second nature!
  19. Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    So how come we did not detect and sink the San Luis? If true, I find the fact it attacked our ships as they came out of Falkland Sound particularly Alaaaaarm-ing. Somebody on our side must have clicked that the routes into and out of the Sound were in effect a killing zone and an obvious place for boats to lurk about. By the way, in some ways it sounds to me like the San Luis out-did the Conquerer when it came to engaging targets; four fish at four RN targets, imagine if they had hit. So, back to my original question: how on earth did we allow the San Luis to run amok amongst our surface fleet for so long?
  20. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re: 1982 attacks on RN by the ARA San Luis

    HB, I'm sure that things have advanced since my day (60's) in Boats, but then and I suspect now, more often than not we got in and made exercise attacks, fired the green grenade to signify the attack and even with that clue were very rarely found.

    Its my opinion and that of others on the forum that both the RN and the Cousins have made a great mistake in not maintaining a Conventional Submarine capability, the Yanks are at the moment hiring a Danish(?) conventional boat to try and up their detection methods, most of the time in shallow inshore waters they can't find it. This would probably have been the conditions that the Argentian Boats were working in.

    Both Seljuck and SgtP were I believe Ping Bosuns so will hopefully be able to give better information on Sonar workings than I can.

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