Help Needed - Loss of HMS Sheffield

Discussion in 'History' started by Sparkers27, May 13, 2010.

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  1. Hello, I am a Masters student at the University of Salford and I'm currently undertaking a study of HMS Sheffield, under the supervision of Dr Eric Grove.

    My purpose of the study is to investigate into the loss of HMS Sheffield, specifically to 'set the record' straight regarding the reasons for the loss: how it happened and why it happened. I want to deal with the controversies that surround the loss as discovered through comparing newspaper articles, books, and testimonies of servicemen.
    Such controversies range from such matters as problems with the radar to myths as the composition of the hull being an issue.

    What would be invaluable is to have first-hand accounts, eyewitness testimonies, and expert opinion from servicemen of the time. I have some reminisces from "The Falklands War: A Day to Day Account from Invasion to Victory" but would really find it useful to have a broader and more varied account from people who served on the vessel.

    As such, I would be very grateful if someone could offer some of their time to help in my investigation, whether it be to provide thoughts on how the loss of HMS Sheffield has been reported in the past, thoughts on the conclusions of the MOD report (such as whether the Exocet was thought to have exploded or responses to the attack), and personal reminisces of what happened before and after the attack. Or anything that they would like to contribute.

    If you can help, please send me a private message or contact me on [email protected].
    I would be happy to discuss my study further, if you have any questions.
    I can accept any contribution as late as mid-June.

    Thank you for your help.
  2. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Having been in the "Task Force" at the time, but lagging a couple of thousand miles behind the Sheffield group, my contribution can only be contemporary and anecdotal, rather than factual.

    Upon return from the conflict, I was through-drafted from Argonaut to the (then) new HMS Southampton, commanded by the late, greatly lamented, Captain Sam Salt and many of the crew were made-up from Sheffield survivors. Southampton was said to have been rushed into service (night-time launch in Southampton by matelots, because of striking dockyard).

    I also served with a guy (a CPO OPS(M) when serving with me) who was in the Ops Room (above the Computer Room) at the moment of impact. He always claimed that the main Radar (double bedstead 965, I think - but I'm a stoker not a Warfare expert) was incompatible when transmitting on Scot, so was shut down, but turning at the time. HMS Glasgow, he claimed, "saw" the missile and called it on the net, but was shouted down by Invincible PWO(A), claiming it was spurious. Certainly the two guys later served together on Illustrious & there was no love lost between them. Again it's purely anecdotal, so I'm afraid cannot be verified and my recollection of the ships involved may be incorrect.

    Many years later, whilst attending RN Advanced Firefighting courses, the "lessons learned" lectures conducted by the boffins, it was always claimed the missile warhead never exploded & the blaze was caused by the propellant - a claim always strongly refuted by Sam Salt & anyone I ever spoke to who was on Sheffield at the time.

    One of the most factually accurate books I read on the conflict, certainly with regard the course of Naval events available for release at the time is "The Royal Navy and the Falklands War" by David Brown:
  3. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    As far as I am aware the warhead did not explode, if it had there would have been larger loss of life. Not sure how many of the lads are on this site but there is a Sheffield D80 Group on FB.

    Will contact you shortly.
  4. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Try this for starters:

    Doug Laybourne had a disscussion site back a few years ago that actually had a lengthy statement from Nick Batho, the AAWO at the time, on the background to the Exocet hit. I saved a copy somewhere and will post it when I find it.
  5. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    A small point which could possibly be construed as nitpicking, and aimed directly at the OP. In the production of your learned dissertation, could you please desist from using the definite article in front of "HMS".
    It's OK to say "HMS Sheffield" or "the Sheffield", but not both together. There is nothing that grates quite so much with the Naval fraternity, and that is used so frequently by journalists and the BBC.
    If in doubt, try saying it out loud in full - "The Her Majesty's Ship".
    Thank you.

  6. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    The Exocet struck on the starboard side amidships at the level of 2 deck . The angle of impact was about 30 degrees from the centreline, the missile entered the forward engineroom and travelled aft. Going right over the gas turbines, and plunging into the after bulkhead without detonating. ps It sounded like a colossal explosion, but the 364 lb warhead did not detonate, and the noise and shock effect can be attributed to the impact of the 1455lb of missile body and rocket motor
  7. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Sparkers 27 - Please see PM inbound.
  8. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

  9. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    I know nothing of whether the exocet detonated or not but in all the films/images of test hits on ships it has almost taken the sharp end off, given that it is designed to hit just below the bridge where ops room and shit are usually situated. :?:
  10. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    That's an interesting article and roughly aligns with what I'd heard (and read) over the years.

    The problem with the "fog of war" is that even those who make the statement "I was there" may not necessarily be any the wiser on the actual course of events. Certainly, as a 'fresh out of the box' MEM on my first permanent draft, scared witless, I could only relate what I saw, thought and concluded on my own ship - even then there are conflicting opinions on what actually happened on 'my ship' and being only a few feet from points of impact as they occurred don't make me anything like an authoritative source on the tactical picture.

    The 'big picture' could probably be more accurately recounted by those in the command and control organisations - assuming they are free to discuss the intricacies of the events as they occurred and were not restricted, nor held back for fear of recrimination.
  11. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Can't realy offer much,
    My ship had swapped places with the Sheff due to a defect early doors on the 4th May. We took up the N/W sector with Glasgow in the middle.
    I was on watch in the ops room at the time of the attack. All I can say is confusion rained that day.
    Periscopes, Torpedo tracks, you name it it was all supposedly going on.
    I thought it was the esm gear that scott blocked out that day not the 965.
    Hence no early warning on the Sheff.
    I also advise you read Sharkey Wards book he offers some interesting thoughts on the day re Sea Harrier deployment.
  12. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Admiral Sandy Woodward's "One Hundred Days" provides an interesting, balanced take on what happened.

    It's very similar in gist to what Ninja_Stoker's source said, but with more detail, some of the blanks filled in and (no offence intended to Rum Ration) more authoritative a source than an online forum.

    Well worth a read.
  13. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Its all here.

    Correction to Ninja Stoker's comment about 965 radar/SCOT interference problems. It was the UAA1 ESM equipment (NOT the radar) that was blanked out in I band (9.3 GHZ) by the use of SCOT satcom. Thus there was no warning available from SHEFFIELD's own ESM of the approach of the Super Etendards or the Exocet head until the last few seconds when SCOT was "scrambled" - ie switched off.

    Also the BOI found conclusively that the missile did not explode.

    May I suggest that you would do well to tread cautiously in this work as there are still many survivors around who were very badly affected by the loss of SHEFFIELD.
  14. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

  15. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    It 'was' the SATCOM which blanked out/interfered with the ESM kit as someone aboard the SHEFFIELD was making a DSSS (Defence Secure Speech System) call at the time.

    I can remember seeing the early washup signals on my ship at the time (Penelope) but honestly cannot remember much from them other than what I have stated above and anyway, it was classified SECRET at the time.

    Good luck with your quest.
  16. Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Thanks. Yeah, I need to get hold of this book this week. Coincidentally, only found out about it last night and that it covered the loss.

    That is something I am particularly interested in. The inquiry states that the warhead did not explode, yet I have come across references (but no direct sources, for example from Captain Salt) to testify to it having exploded.

    Well I was hoping to contact servicemen who were on HMS Sheffield; those who were on HMS Invincible and dealt with the radar monitoring of aircraft; anyone with expertise on the Type 42, or those who have an interest in the loss and have questions of their own, primarily. But not only. It is important and interesting to find out what the general public and other members of the RN think about the matter from discussing aspects of the loss that are potentially of a controversial nature.

    2 Badge Mango
    Not been able to contact Doug Laybourne, unfortunately.
    I would be very grateful if you could let me have a copy.

    Never realised. Noted, thanks.

    Blue Villain
    Yes, it seems from the inquiry and other personal accounts that the submarine threat was considered to be greater than the air threat.

    Not heard of that book. Will have to buy it. Thanks.

    Will pick up that too. Thanks.

    I am really grateful for everyone's replies. Been really helpful.

    If you have any questions or want to discuss anything with me, please feel free to e-mail on the student account: [email protected].
  17. FlagWagger

    FlagWagger Book Reviewer

    Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Sea Harrier Over the Falklands is the book by Sharky Ward - it should be on my bookshelf but I can't find it at the moment (damn kids!) to give you the ISBN
  18. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Re: Help Needed - Loss of the HMS Sheffield

    Whilst certainly not an ordnance expert, like many I've seen several videos of Exocet trial hits on decommissioned warships, particularly in the role of teaching damage control & the impact area seems to result in a gaping entry point, almost splitting the ship in two in the cases of more modern ships (WWII ships obviously had much thicker steel on the hull & in some cases armour plate), rather than a punched entry hole. As some have already stated on this thread and elsewhere, I'm inclined to think that if it did explode, it was possibly only partial as the weapon 'cooked-off' after impact in the ensuing blaze.

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