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The May 30th 1982 attack to the Task Force. A British view.

Indice Malvinas

 

 

By Mariano Sciaroni

The attack on the 30th May 1982, carried out by Super Etendards of the Argentine Naval Aviation and A-4C Skyhawks of the Argentine Air Force, resulted in one of the most controversial episodes in the South Atlantic War.

What is laid out here, is what occurred according to accounts exclusively from members of the British Task Force.
This study, therefore, is an analysis of the seven minutes that afternoon. No Argentine documents or witness accounts are used, nor are other British or other source analyses which attempt to link the two different views about this event. The only things used for this study are official British documents; books written by the protagonists of the events or historians who interviewed them; all intertwined with accounts from witnesses of the events.

The objective of this study is not to arrive at or produce a definitive story of the attack, not to arrive at a balanced version of the same. In short, it is only an attempt to relate what British sailors said happened that day. That is to say, to reconstruct, within all possibilities, a part of the truth.

It must be said many times it is considered that the "British version" indicated that there was an impact on the burned hull of SS Atlantic Conveyor (sunk days earlier), that the Exocet had been shot down in flight, amongst other theories put forward, some seeming to be malicious. We hope that this small study brings to light what is considered to be the definitive version according to the Task Force.
As will be seen, this version is not lacking in contradictions, and on many occasions, leaves more questions than provides answers. By bring to light these questions, however, leaves room for future investigations.

 

 

I.-

For the British CVBG, commanded by Rear Admiral John Forster "Sandy" Woodward, the afternoon of the 30th May 1982 would pass without too much distress.

Although had the Exocet impacted on (and then sunk) the remains of the container ship SS Atlantic Conveyor, it would have demonstrated the Argentine capacity to penetrate the heart of the fleet, which hadn't taken additional measures to protect the the two vital aircraft carriers: HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible.

Lacking an embarked airborne early warning asset, the first alarm of a possible attack came from the submarines stationed along the Argentine coast as well as a Chilean Air Force (FACH) positioned on a mountain near to Puntas Arenas (2), which with its 200 nm reach, covered the air bases of Rio Grande and Rio Gallegos. In both cases, along with information provided by special forces located inside Argentina (3), any notification arrived directly at HMS Hermes via the secure channel, and then distributed to other ships. In this way, there was a prior notice of some 30 to 40 minutes - the time it would take an aircraft to arrive from the continent to a target in the Islands, or close by.

However, HMS Valiant, a nuclear submarine under the command of Commander Tom le Marchant, operating in the vicinity of the Isla de los Estados did not make any significant detections that could have alerted the carrier group (4). It is worth pointing out that the previous day it had detected with its ESM equipment the radar of a Super Etendard (5). Nevertheless, the warning of a possible aerial attack ("yellow alert"), arrived at 16:45Z from one of the other sources mentioned above. Forty minutes later, without anything having happened, the alert was cancelled. The British ships located away from the islands, therefore, were no longer expecting any further enemy action.

At this moment, the nucleus of the fleet, centred on HMS Invincible, was located some 110 nautical miles from Port Stanley on a bearing of 080º (7), formed in a shape that provided the maximum possible protection against a possible air attack from the West or North West.

At this moment, it is worth mentioning that the previous Exocet attack (on the 25th May) had come from the North and especially that the British intelligence services had mistakenly belived that the Super Etendards of the 2nd Aeronaval Attack Squadron (the only unit that could launch the French air surface missile) for the Aeronaval Command were able to operate from the runway at Puerto Deseado (another airfield located to the NW of the islands on the Argentine coast) (8).

This conviction remained for several more days, and was so strong that on the 2nd June a unit of the SBS, on board the submarine HMS Onyx, were ordered to disembark in the said locality and destroy the airfield installations. This mission was later cancelled the next day when the submarine was en route (9).

Returning to the disposition of the fleet, three destroyers armed with Sea Dart anti aircraft missiles were loacted in a semi-circle that, like a shield, provided protection to the nucleus. From the North to the South, HMS Bristol (Type 82), HMS Cardiff and HMS Exeter (both Tpye 42s) were scanning the skies for enemy aircraft, located at a distance of between 25 and 35 nm from the centre of the fleet.

As an inner protection screen, especially providing an anti-submarine screen, between 5 and 10 nm from the centre of the formation, were the Type 21 frigate HMS Ambuscade and the County class destroyer HMS Glamorgan, both with missile systems of smaller range. Close by HMS Ambuscade was the Leander class frigate HMS Andromeda. The inner ring and the nucleus of the fleet (whose guide that day was RFA Regent) included other frigates, such as HMS Plymouth and HMS Alacrity), logistic and support ships as well as HMS Invincible (10).

Unusually, the aircraft carrier did not have any close in escort ship (11) armed with the lethal Sea Wolf missiles. Invincible also had another problem, that day her own Sea Dart system was out of operation (12). The other aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, was located seven nm to the north of Invincible (13).

It is worth adding that the weather that day was not bad, with a visibility of 10 nm, limited only by some isolated squalls(14).

II.-

The calm that afternoon was broken at 17:30Z, when an operator of a FH5 (a HF Direction Finder based on tube technology with its origins in the second world war(16)) on HMS Exeter detected voices in Spanish on the frequency of 12.333 KHz. Although it was not possible to understand what these voices were saying (due to the limitations of the equipment) or the direction of the transmission, immediately an alert was ordered within the fleet assuming that an attack could be materializing (17).

At this moment, the Lynx HAS. 2 from the frigate HMS Andromeda (XV722 affectionately known as "ARFA") manned by Commander Bob McKellar (commanding) and Lt. Larry Jeram-Croft (pilot - in the Royal Navy the highest ranking officer was commander of the aircraft whether or not he was the pilot) was some 15/20 nm to the West of Exeter (18). The flight was relaxed and the the crew had the task of providing early warning of an attack, for which they used their Orange Crop ESM equipment, as well as their eyes, which was originally designed and developed to intercept and locate submarines based on their transmissions. Additionally, it possessed some electronic counter measures equipment.

"We were the only Lynx on picket duty - all of the Lynx in the fleet took turns to do this. The ECM equipment was not necessary for this task, the important set for this was the "Orange Crop", our ESM, which all Lynxes had at this time. It was the only way, from the air, that we could detect with sufficient early warning, the radar from a Super Etendard. The helicopters, patrolled out in front of the force while listening out for an early detection of radar emissions. Suddenly, the "Orange Crop" detected a radar, which was clearly an Etendard. We called the controller in Hermes and informed him of a contact to the South. At the same time, one of the ships alerted the detection of the same radar and confirmed the detection (20)".

Effectively, at 17:31Z the UAA1 ESM equipment on HMS Exeter detected the emission of an Agave radar (21) (as carried by the Super Etendard) to the South of the formation. On the transmission of the word "HANDBRAKE" (the code word for the detection of this type of radar), the fleet prepared to deal with another missile attack. Immediately, HMS Ambuscade and HMS Glamorgan corroborated the information, announcing over the net the detections of this radar as well (22).

Able Seaman Ken Griffiths, an radar operator on HMS Cardiff found himself standing behind one of their radar screens at this moment. "The red alert was transmitted on HF and UHF, on the air defence net frequencies. Additionally, HMS Exeter put the information on the Link 10, I could see it on the radar. Link 10 is a secure, encrypted method of transmitting one ship's radar to other radar screens in the fleet. It uses HF and UHF and, basically allows you to see what the other ships can see. In theory, it replaced reports via radio between ships, but this was not usually the case in 1982 (23)”.

Bearing in mind the profiles of the previous Argentine missions, it was assumed that another attack with Exocet was imimnent (Codeword "Zippo 4") (24), the automatic response to which was the launching of Chaff, small specially cut metal foil strips, by the all ships of the force (remembering that the requisitioned ships lack this type of defence (25)). The idea was that by everyone launching Chaff "Delta", this would create false echos which would confuse the attackers.

With a reload of the Chaff rockets limited by the manual effort required, what had been ordered (for a frigate or destroyer) was the firing of twelve chaff rockets in the case of a Zippo 4 instruction, with the end that another firing could take place almost immediately with the remaining four rockets in case that it was necessary (there were usually sixteen rockets primed to be launched) (26). Also, follow pre agreed directives, ships would turn in order to put their starboard quarter in the direction of the attack (27).

A minute later (1732Z), the 1022 radar of HMS Exeter detected 3 contacts to the south at 29 nautical miles, which was also detected by the 992 radar operator on HMS Invincible who established contact with two bandits (28). At this moment the ESM equipment on HMS Ambuscade informed that the parameters of the Agave radar had changed to a short pulse of high repetition. It was considered that the Argentine pilot was looking for a better picture on his screen, or it was the emission from the radar on the other aircraft.

On the bow of Exeter, the Sea Dart launcher rotated abruptly and with two targets locked (one on each of the ship's 909 fire radars located under the white domes on each end of the ship), in rapid succession she fired the two waiting missiles, which took off leaving a large white trail of smoke behind them. The ship, with the improvements introduced with the second batch of these ships, benefited from the latest updates in equipment and software, as well as having a commander who was a specialist in electronic warfare and communications.

All of this gave it an advantage of up to fifteen seconds when it came to fire its missiles in comparison with its batch 1 sisters, such as HMS Cardiff. (29) The missiles, heading off to the South, separated from their boosters and began their intercept course against the incoming contacts and disappeared from sight.

III.-

The Type 21 frigate HMS Avenger found itself at this moment fortunately to the South of HMS Exeter, on its way from the heart of the CVBG towards the islands in order to attempt to disembark 24 members of the SBS in the area of Volunteer Beach to the North of the capital - an operation that had been attempted the previous night due to the non serviceability of the ship's Lynx helicopter. (30)

Prior to the attack, it had found itself in a calm sea, so calm that the crew had been ordered to reposition the 20mm Oerlikon cannon during its transit to the islands. In an almost stationary flight, in the area of the flight deck of the frigate was a Wessex V (Yankee Delta of 848 Naval Air Squadron) which was delivering spares for the ship (32).

At the moment of the initial alarm, the direction of the attack was initially misreported in the Operations Room at the heart of the ship as coming in from the North, instead of the South (the message from Exeter was not sufficiently clear, such is the case that it was reported incorrectly in Invincible). Therefore Avenger turned in order to put the stern of the ship and her Sea Cat missile launchers in the presumed direction of the attack, at the same time firing off its chaff countermeasures and increased speed to escape from the area of the attack. (33).

The Wessex was then ordered to move away from the ship (it had nearly been hit by the chaff missiles fired by the ship), something that it only partially carried out - it remained in the area of the stern of the ship (34).
At 17:33Z, three minutes after the initial red alert (and by 30 seconds) Avenger was able to detect the radar emissions and at the same time the ships 992 radar detected 2 echoes at 22 nautical miles which were coming from the South heading North. (35).

Clearly, the ship was heading towards the enemy (not away from it), and in which manner the chaff which had been fired by the ship was being left behind and would be of scarce benefit. The commander, Hugo White, decided he could not run the risk of changing course and presenting the side of his ship as a target, but instead reduced speed to a minimum. (36)

At almost the same moment, a few miles away, the always vigilant (and well equipped) operations room of Exeter detected the launch of the Exocet had taken place at 22 nautical miles to the South, corroborated moments later by Avenger, which evaluated that the missile launch had taken place on a bearing of 160º and 156 nautical miles to the South.

Immediately they began to receive radar emissions from the homing head of the radar, which by now was searching for the target that had been given to it by the pilot of the Super Etendard (37). "Zippo 1" was transmitted on the network (meaning the missile had been detected at close distance") and the units of the fleet once again fired a new chaff pattern, now to confuse the homing head of the missile.

In Cardiff, miles behind the action, the situation was very confusing, according to one of its radar operators.
I can clearly remember seeing Exeter and up to three other contacts. I don't remember the exact distances, but I think that it was more or less 15 nautical miles. We could not see it on every revolution of the radar (the 992) and it was very difficult to make out exactly how many contacts there were. It was extremely confusing and we (Cardiff) were not really absolutely sure what was happening (38).”

IV.-

After having detected the launch of the missile, three of the screen ships detected the turn and escape of the the aircraft (one or two according to the informant), and at the same time multiple contacts continued to fly north at a speed of 527 knots (39). However, in the chaotic few seconds that passed, with an explosion on the horizon, it was assumed that at 17:34Z, the second missile launched by Exeter had impacted on its target.

On the radar screen in HMS Invincible the operator clearly saw the results of a large explosion, which continued to be displayed on his screen for three rotations of the radar (40). It's not clear what happened to the first missile fired by the ship, but its launch scared the crew of Andromeda's Lynx, which now found itself still in the area of the attack.
We had carried out our task and could really do anything else as we were too far away to turn on the ECM equipment. We decided the best thing to do would be to hide. I accelerated to the maximum speed of 150 knots and headed for a large cumulus cloud that was in the direction of the nucleus of the fleet. We never got there. Suddenly, a continuous tone emanated from the "Orange Crop" and Bob immediately recognised that it was the sound of a 909 lock. I looked over my left shoulder and uttered the following memorable words: "Shit, they are firing at us". I rapidly turned the helicopter to the left and then saw the smoke trail from the Sea Dart heading towards us. I knew that we were dead. Even now, I have no idea how we survived, but in an instinctive action I began to lose height. We pulled out at 2000 feet, and then saw a fire ball on the horizon. (41)
From Exeter, they were conscious that the missile would pass close to the Lynx, but they decided to fire anyway.

"We had a Lynx helicopter in the direction of the missile, which was coming back from a surface search mission. They would have been shocked, as they had an ESM system that would have detected the 909 radars, believing us to have locked them up with a missile. We told shouted at them to remain silent and to climb, because we knew that the Argentine attack would be coming in at love level. We wanted them to get out of the way. I don't think they heard us. Luckily, we didn't hit the helicopter." (42)

At that moment, Exeter already had a third missile in the air, which they believed 30 seconds later (at 17:34Z and 30 seconds) had impacted in another aircraft. According to the radar operator, despite the shooting downs, the contacts opened up and continued the attack.
The commander of Exeter, Hugh Balfour, said this about the missile launches:
A radar emission was detected and we ran to our stations, putting on the anti-flash masks and closing doors and portholes. A group of contacts appeared to the south in our sector at about 30 miles. The speed of the action was considerable, but our missile systems were tested out at sea. We locked on and fire three Sea Dart missiles, scaring the first target and impacting on the second, all in the space of a minute and a half. (43).

To the South of this position, HMS Avenger followed the attack with its own radar. Its cannon, a Vickers Mk. 8 of 4.5" was ready to fire along the bearing of the attackers (calibrating the projectiles to explode at 4300 meters from the bow), and at the same time a light machine gun was being prepared to fire from the wing of the bridge. The 20mm cannon was still being moved to its new position on the flight deck. (44) There were no other anti-aircraft cannons available.

Avenger, additionally, reloaded and fired another curtain of chaff, its commander considering that at this moment "he had discarded all desires to economise its use". (45) At 17:37Z, HMS Avenger, while manoeuvring beneath its chaff cloud, reported that it was under attack by 3 Skyhawks. There was some surprise in the other ships to find out that the attack was not exclusively an attack by Exocet. (46)

The cannon was transferred over to manual controls and fired a curtain of fragmentation shells with proximity fuses (47), and at the same time opened fire with the only available machine gun. (47) On of the aircraft was shot down a short distance from the ship, which was thought to be an explosion of its own bombs or from the anti-aircraft fire. (48) The ship didn't report any damage (none of the bombs that fell into the sea exploded (49)), but reported having shot down an Exocet with one of the first salvoes of the cannon, and with retrospect, also a Skyhawk.

Lt. Commander Tony Bolingbroke, First Officer of the ship, at that moment of the attack, was on the bridge of HMS Avenger.
Our team was, of course, ‘positive’ that we had downed an Exocet but if we did it was surely a fluke. We certainly shot down one of the four Skyhawks and later recovered bits of the aircraft and its pilot (who we buried in a proper and dignified manner) but as Exeter shot down the other, that was effectively fired over us, you can imagine that, with the explosions and noise - to say nothing of the adrenaline - we were all at full chat. The Skyhawks that flew in behind the missile flew directly at Avenger and were so low that standing on the bridge relaying a sort of commentary to the lads below decks I found myself almost looking down at them. So close did they pass that I could see their faces! (50)”

The Master at Arms, Bill Jarvis, found himself in the same location as the First Officer.
"I could see three Skyhawks as they flew towards us, two along the port side from the bow, and the other on the starboard side weaving and scraping the waves, low and fast. I focussed my binoculars on the closest on the port side and thought how ill-fated it seemed, that they were coming straight towards us , towards me. As the aircraft reached the bow of the ship, the First Officer gave the order to take cover and we threw ourselves onto the deck, face down, with our hands over our necks. The First Officer landed on top of me. The two aircraft on the port side flew flew past below the level of the windows on the bridge and each dropped three bombs harmlessly into the sea. The aircraft on the starboard side dropped its bombs just in front of the ship, and as the bombs were dropping, it started to turn and touched the surface of the sea and cartwheeled into the sea off our starboard side". (51)

Immediately after the report from Avenger, the radar on Invincible reported two contacts fleeing from the attacked ship at high speed. Exeter remained locked on with its Sea Dart system but its commander, Hugh Balfour, decided not to fire on the two aircraft that were retreating to the West. In addition, Sea Harriers had been ordered to intercept the withdrawing enemy aircraft, and they only had seven missiles remaining in their armoury with no expectation to receive more in the coming days.

For its part, Cardiff followed the action without being able to lock her fire control radars on the aircraft:
We could not lock on to any of the contacts. We tried to use the contacts sent by the Link 10 from Exeter so that our 909 radars would lock on to them, but in spite of the desperate efforts made by our own operators, we couldn't transfer any of them into the Sea Dart system. (53)

V.-

On Invincible, two 820 squadron Sea King helicopters in anti-submarine configuration, that had been deployed the previous day to the RFA Tidepool to offer it more protection, had just landed on the deck when the incoming attack was reported. (54)

On the stern of the ship, Lt. C.H. Cantan was sitting in his Sea Harrier, XZ495/003 (801 Naval Air Squadron) at Alert 5. (55) The aircraft carried its usual armament of 2 air-to-air Sidewinder model L missiles, two 30mm Aden cannons and two drop tank full of fuel. At this moment the order was given to launch, head on a bearing of 220º at 1500 feet.

Shortly after, the pilot saw a wake, which the pilot considered to be a missile at low altitude heading NE, and detected momentarily in his Blue Fox radar a contact a distant air contact at some 12 nautical miles. Putting himself on a heading towards this contact, he was illuminated by a 909 fire control radar (possibly by HMS Exeter) which caused him to evade it and broadcast his presence on the different radio channels. Shortly afterwards, once he had got over his shock, he was told that his task had been cancelled as the contacts had opened to the West and given the distance to them, there was no reason to give chase.

He then went to a CAP station to the South West, flying a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes before landing back on the aircraft carrier. From the other direction, Flight Lieutenant Ian Mortimer, also part of 801 NAS) had taken off from the carrier at 16:35Z for a CAP station close to the capital, where he didn't gain any contacts, but had received ineffective fire from the ground. (56)

He was on his way back to the carrier when he was informed by the air controller of the Red Alert and the possible Exocet attack, being vectored to a bearing of 130º towards a contact 45 nautical miles from his position.  That contact disappeared, but was shortly reacquired by the aircraft carrier, this time at 27 nautical miles. (57) Flt. Lt. Mortimer closed to 10 nautical miles from the position, but by 17:50z the Alert had been cancelled. It's also worth adding that at 17:19Z, a pair of Sea Harriers (from 800 NAS) had taken off from HMS Hermes.
According to the air controller of HMS Invincible that day, Lt. P.G. King, they got very close that day.
"We were very close to intercepting the Super Etendards on the 30th May - possible the most stimulating experience I had, trying to intercept them with two Sea Harriers. (60)
When the attacking aircraft were leaving, the Lynx that had been startled by the first Sea Dart missile had recovered. A bit shaken up, we noticed that we could not hear anything on the radio. To the North we could see a ship with a lot of smoke and something similar to explosions. We went to investigate. It was Exeter, the smoke came from her funnel and the reflection of the sun on her radars". (61)

VI.-

Meanwhile, the Exocet had penetrated the screen, presumably passing close to the starboard side and close to the stern of Avenger (without being seen by anyone on board) and then close to Exeter.
Andromeda, which was in the path of the Exocet, acquired the missile with its 967 radar and, when the missile got to a distance around 10 nautical miles, it was captured by the 910 radar of the Sea Wolf system. (62)
Practically all of the defence ships, at one point or another, estimated that the had locked onto them and were heading in their direction.

For example, inside HMS Glamorgan, Ian Inskip, Officer On Watch on the bridge:
"A Lynx helicopter informed that it had seen a smoke trail coming in our direction and so we increased our speed and headed towards the threat. Estimating the bearing and range of the missile, I worked out that on its normal course it would pass half a mile from us, but that would mean that we would be in view of the homing head of the missile. If it detected us, it would turn towards us and possibly hit us. Cutting through the wind, once more we were the expendable escort protecting the units of greater value." (63)

Glamorgan fired its cannon in the direction that the missile was coming from, adding to the confusion. Cardiff also opened fire with small arms, towards some explosions on the horizon, that were later determined to be the missiles launched by HMS Exeter. At 17:37:30 smoke was detected by HMS Ambuscade and then an explosion in the water, estimating this took place 7.8 nautical miles from the ship (bearing in mind information also gained from the frigate's radar). (65) At this moment, contact with the missile was also lost by HMS Andromeda.

VII.-

During those confusing moments, the situation on board Invincible was not very different, now sailing on a course of 060º. (66) Petty Officer Rod Fearnley, on the flight deck of the ship, remembers looking for somewhere to take cover in case of an impact. The attack, that was taking place outside of visual range, was related as a commentary (seemingly somewhat imprecisely) on the ship's speaker system. He noted in his diary for that day:
"Very cold. Rain and sleet. The ship was on alert due to attacks by Super Etendards between 18:30 and 22:30. During the first attack Exeter show down the enemy missiles. Good for them! Ambuscade startled the rest. We only fired off some chaff D (67)”.

Another crew member, Warrant Officer Nicholas Lutwyche was in charge of some GPMGs that had been mounted for close in defence of the ship. With a thousand rounds at the ready, located on the forward port side walkway alongside the flight deck (close to the ships liquid oxygen plant) patiently waited for a target to appear, but he didn't see any. (68)

VIII.-

Minutes later, the Wessex V headed over to the site of the explosion of the second Skyhawk (close by Avenger), the water coloured turquoise and remains from the aircraft floating on the surface. (69) From Andromeda's Lynx it was also possible to see the coloured water and the remains of an ejector seat sinking slowly. (70) An NCO on board the Wessex lower a hook on a line and recovered one man life-raft , full of holes. Avenger also launched a boat and recovered a small piece of the aircraft and part of a body. I think it was a life jacket or something similar. I think the Wessex also recovered some other things.

IX.-

The combat reports immediately after the attack were a little confused. Exeter reported that she had shot down a Super Etendard, and like that another aerial contact of indeterminate characteristics (72). At the same time Avenger logged an Exocet (73) and a little later added an A-4. (74)

Days later, the Admiral's staff concluded that the CVBG had been attacked by one or two Super Etendards, accompanied by three or four Skyhawks (75), and that possibly Exeter, with its Sea Darts, had hit two of the A-4s. The commander of Exeter, additionally, in a new evaluation of the incident, concluded with 100% certainty that his ship had shot down one of the two A-4s (76). He also indicated that an Exocet had penetrated to the inner ring of ships, and that another possible Exocet had hung up and not left its launch aircraft, could not fly or had flown in tandem with the first. (77)

However, with the analysis of the A-4s involved in the attack (that we know were four), he represented Exeter had shot down a second A-4 at 17:30:30 Z, when Avenger states that it was attacked by three aircraft at 17:37Z. Additionally, it was calculated that the launched Exocet ran for a total of 64 km (35 nm), in a straight line from where it was launched to where it fell into the water (that is to say more if one bears in mind the possible changes in course of the missile). The quotes distance is much greater than the maximum range of the missile if launched at low lever (around 50km).

X.-

The attack on the 30th May 1982 took the British completely by surprise. According to the commander of the fleet, “
As an attack mission, it was not badly thought out, even though it did require a very long round trip.” (78). The commander of HMS Invincible (J.J. Black) considered that the Argentines:
Tried an ingenious plan, that was very nearly successful” (79)

According to the CO of HMS Exeter, Hugh Balfour:
They carried out a remarkable mission, flying miles and miles from Argentina, refuelling those single seat aircraft several times.... truly an exceptional, efficient and exciting mission. I have a great respect for the Argentines that carried out this mission which was equal to any other. It was very brave (80).
For the British Task Force, from the initial detection of the voices on HF radio, until the egress of the Skyhawks, had lasted for only six scant minutes. The success in repelling the attack, they considered, was due to the timely deployment of chaff, the rapid manoeuvring of the ships in showing the bow or stern to the missile in order to minimise the target area. (81)
As a lesson, it was understood that the firing of chaff should be carried out as soon as possible following a detection of an Agave radar.

XI-

Within just a few hours, it was clear (to the British Forces) that the attack on the fleet had involved the frigate HMS Avenger and the destroyer HMS Exeter as the protagonists. For this reason, the Officer On Watch had written in the part of the ships log reserved for the day's summary "Attacked by Super Etendards - no damage" (82); and Exeter's wrote "Defence Watches in the TEZ. Group attacked by Super Etendards" (83); and Avenger's recorded only "Defence watches - Operation Corporate". (84) Almost immediately the submarines in the theatre received the transmission "Four aircraft attacked and missed the Invincible, of which two were shot down.” (85).

Finally, a report was created and sent to the headquarters, which informed the Cabinet and this informed Parliament that "An unsuccessful attack on HMS Invincible on the 30th May by Argentine Super Etendard aircraft equipped Exocet" (86). Therefore, the only thing that is clear was that nobody was exactly clear about what happened during the attack on HMS Invincible.

 References

1)- Sciaroni (2012:59-73).
2)- Arancibia Clavel & De la Maza Cave (2003:354).
3)- Operation Shutter” developed since late May to early June, to report take offs from Río Grande, Río Gallegos and  Comodoro Rivadavia airbases. Unknown forces were there at the time (An examination of Argentine air effort during the Falklands Campaignen DEFE 58/273)

4)- HMS Valiant, on May 30th detected a possible fast craft (TNC 45 type) north of Staten Island. Also, classified four air contacts according her limited ESM equipment: Hércules, Dagger, Bandeirante and Tracker. Weather was bad that day, because no contact was validated visually. Le Marchand, T. (HMS Valiant) Report of Proceedings.
5)- Le Marchand, T. (HMS Valiant) Report of Proceedings.
6)- HMS Invincible Falklands Islands Campaign Diary (DEFE 69/844).
7)- HMS Invincible ship log.

8)- Memorando a Margaret Thatcher del Ministerio de Defensa (“Exocet Attack, 25th May”).
9)- Johnson, A. (HMS Onyx) Report of Proceedings.
10)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82. File dated June 8th, 1982signed by Adm John Fieldhouse.

11)- McManners (2007:184).
12)- McManners (2007:184).
13)- Woodward y Robinson (2012:430).
14)- Brown (1989:255)
15)- All times Zulu

16)- Friedman (2006:393).
17)- HMS Invincible ship log, HMS Avenger ship log, HMS Exeter ship log and HMS Hermes ship log. All logs corroborated the alarm at 1730z, but Invincible´s 1731z.
18)- Email from Larry Jeram Croft, February 10 2014.
19)- Friedman (1997:522).
20)- Email from Larry Jeram Croft, February 10 2014
21)- Woodward and Robinson (2012:430).
22)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
23)- Email from Ken Griffiths, February 11 2014.
24)-  Zippo call alerts the units about a missile attack inminent o develope. ONE: missile detected close; TWO: missile detected at long distance; THREE: air missile launched from long distance; FOUR: missile attack inminent.

25)- Evans (2007).
26)- Report of Captain Salt, Loss of HMS Sheffield, Board of Inquiry. Annex C.
27)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
28)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
29)- Woodward and Robinson (2012:429).
30)- Middlebrook (1988:287).
31)- Brown (1989:255).
32)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke, February 11 2014.
33)- Middlebrook (1988:287).
34)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke, February 11 2014.
35)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
36)- Middlebrook (1988:287).
37)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
38)-
Email from Ken Griffiths, February 11 2014.
39)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
40)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
41)- Email from Larry Jeram Croft, February 6 2014.
42)- Balfour (1994).
43)- Balfour (2009).
44)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke, February 11 2014.
45)- McManners (1986).
46)- Balfour (2009).
47)- Middlebrook (1988:287).
48)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
49)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke, February 11 2014.
50)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke, October 2 2012.
51)- Middlebrook (1988:287).
52)- Balfour (1994).
53)- Email from Ken Griffiths, February 17 2014.
54)- Op Corporate Falklands Conflict, 820 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Invincible flight report (DEFE 69/838).
55)-Telconf with C. H. Cantan, March 28 2014. Given information was also at Op Corporate Falklands Conflict 801 Squadron Operational Diary (DEFE 69/1085).
56)- Op Corporate Falklands Conflict 801 Squadron Operational Diary (DEFE 69/1085).
57)- Op Corporate Falklands Conflict 801 Squadron Operational Diary (DEFE 69/1085).
58)- Flight Lt Mortimer was shot down two days later.

 59)- HMS Hermes ship log. At 1747z Hermes launched two Sea Harrier and two RAF Harrier Gr3

60)- King (1983:112).
61)- Email from Larry Jeram Croft, February 6 2014.
62)- Email from Larry Jeram Croft, February 10 2014.
63)- Inskip (2012:129).
64)- Inskip (2012:129).
65)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
66)- HMS Invincible ship log.
67)- Email from Rod Fearnley, February 14 2014.
68)- Email from Nycholas Lutwyche, May 13 2014.
69)- Benson (2012:213)
70)- Email from Larry Jeram Croft, February 6 2014.
71)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke, February 12 2014.
72)- HMS Exeter ship log.
73)- HMS Avenger ship log.
74)- Email from Tony Bolingbroke February 12 2014.

75)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
76)- Balfour (1994).
77)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
78)- Woodward and Robinson (2012:429-30).
79)- McManners (2007:184).
80)- Balfour (1994).
81)- Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82.
82)- HMS Invincible ship log.
83)- HMS Exeter ship log.
84)- HMS Avenger ship log.
85)- From a personal diary of a HMS Conqueror crewmember.
86)- South Atlantic Presentation Unit (82) 30 en Thatcher MSS (Churchill Archive Centre).

Bibliography.

 Publicaciones

Arancibia Clavel, P. y De la Maza Cave, I. (2003).
Matthei, mi testimonio, Santiago de Chile: Editorial Random House.
Balfour, H. Exeter Antigua to the Falklands, 2009, http://www.hms-exeter.co.uk/Falk_82_1.html [Recuperada: lunes, 5 de mayo de 2014]
Balfour, H. (1994). IWM Interview, (grabación de audio), Londres: Imperial War Museum, Número de catalogo 14596.
Benson, H. (2012). Scram!, Londres: Random House.
Brown, D. (1989). The Royal Navy and the Falklands War, Londres: Arrow Edition.
Evans, M. (2007) “Legal fears left Atlantic Conveyor defenceless”,
Diario The Times, Edición del 11 de diciembre.
Friedman, N. (2006). The Naval Institute guide to world naval weapon systems – Fifth Edition, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Inskip, I. (2012). Ordeal by Exocet: HMS Glamorgan and the Falklands War, Londres: Frontline Books.
King, P.G. (1983). “HMS Invincible: some individual recollections”,
The Naval Review, Londres: The Naval Review, Año LXXI, Nro. 2, Abril, 108-118.
McManners, H. (1986). “Avenger”, Revista Cuerpos de Elite, Barcelona: Planeta - De Agostini, Nro. 97.
McManners, H. (2007). Forgotten Voices of the Falklands, Londres: Ebury Press.
Middlebrook, M. (1988). Task Force. The Falklands War 1982, Londres: Penguin Books.
Sciaroni, M. (2012). “Alerta temprana desde submarinos. La experiencia de la Royal Navy en Malvinas 1982”, Revista de la Escuela de Guerra Naval, Buenos Aires: Escuela de Guerra Naval, Año XLII, Nro. 58, Octubre, 59-73.
Woodward, J. F. y Robinson, P. (2012). One Hundred Days, Londres: Harper Collins Publishers.
 

British official records:

Logs:
HMS Invincible ship log (ADM 53/189407); HMS Hermes ship log (ADM 53/189351); HMS Avenger ship log (ADM 53/190138) y HMS Exeter ship log (ADM 53/189189).
 

Records of Operations:
Exocet Attack, 25th May (PREM 19/650).
Operation Corporate – Analysis of Exocet firing 30 May 82 (DEFE 58/273).
Op Corporate Falklands Conflict, 820 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Invincible flight report (DEFE 69/838).
HMS Invincible Falklands Islands Campaign Diary (DEFE 69/844).
Op Corporate Falklands Conflict 801 Squadron Operational Diary (DEFE 69/1085).
An examination of Argentine air effort during the Falklands Campaign/Operational Research Branch report (DEFE 58/273).
Report of Captain Salt, Loss of HMS Sheffield, Board of Inquiry. Annex C (Naval Historic Branch).
South Atlantic Presentation Unit (82) 30 (Thatcher MSS -Churchill Archive Centre: THCR 2/6/2/163).
HMS Onyx, Report of Proceedings
HMS Valiant, Report of Proceedings (Naval Service FOI Coordination Cell – request 10-12-2010-101254-002)
 

All documents on the National Archives británicos (at Kew), unless contrary statement.

 People interviewed
Larry Jeram Croft 815 NAS (HMS Andromeda)
Kenneth Griffiths HMS Cardiff
Tony Bolingbroke HMS Avenger
Charles Cantan 801 NAS (HMS Invincible)
Rod Fearnley HMS Invincible
Nicholas Lutwyche HMS Invincible

 Bill Jarvis died last year. Rest in Peace.

 Translation: Andy Smith

Sources: ACCIONES AERÉAS EN EL CONFLICTO DEL ATLÁNTICO SUR 1971-1982.
Buenos Aires 8, 9 y 10 de septiembre de 2014. ACTAS DEL III CONGRESO INTERNACIONAL DE HISTORIA AERONÁUTICA MILITAR ARGENTINA “ACCIONES AÉREAS EN EL
CONFLICTO DEL ATLÁNTICO SUR, 1971-1982”.

 
 

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