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The Empire And The Falklands / Malvinas


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I was hoping to keep this low key, but as it has been almost 35 years since the operation, maybe I won't, and maybe the secret squirrels won't knock on my door.

 

Recently I had a brief chat with a young man, who when the situation in Fiji came up, mentioned that his family had been there during a previous time of trouble.

 

He told me that his father, in the Royal AUSTRALIAN Navy had been to the Falklands... I asked if he had been on exchange duty with the Old Dart's Senior Service?

 

The answer was 'No'...................?

 

It seems that units of the RAN were positioned to be able to intervene if the Royal Navy was to take too many losses...

 

We all know that the RNZN sent a ship or too to help out with British NATO commitments, but to actually have Commonwealth forces ready to help out?

 

I can only imagine this to be a humanitarian mission. That is, if the Royal Navy copped a hiding, then the Royal Australian Navy would have been in a position to assist, covering the withdrawal, rather than the RAN actually getting mixed up in the naval battle for the Falklands. I imagine the RAN ships may have been the River Class (Aust built Leanders) or possibly the more potent Perth Class (Charles F Adams).

 

The fallout from the Argentinians attacking ships engaged in rescue / recovery / support missions may have been rather interesting.

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Have a play with Great Circle Mapper

 

http://www.gcmap.com/

 

Not a Mercator map to see the distances

 

Think 120 from AKL (1.5K) vs ASI, fuel ex SCEL

 

Unlikely

 

Edited to add

 

At the time the loss of the Vampire? destroyer from a casevac at Heard Island at that time of year was within memory of anyone LCDR and above. Drake passage NO. The destroyer didn't sink, desperate efforts, and a long tow got it to Oz for scrapping.

 

Magellan Straight vs air at least survivors would have a chance and at the time our briefings did include the bit about the Argentinian bomb fuzing (now open, not then). Presumably anyone high up in the RAN would have known bout the Argentinian bomb fuzing.

Edited by Miner
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I dont buy it. I mean, I would like to. Im sure all the RAN was rooting for us and all, but by the time it came for them to have intervened, we would have been on our way home. More likely is what the Kiwi Navy was doing, taking over from British responsibilities in the Persian Gulf whilst we were using the ships off the Falklands. If we had taken substantial losses, presumably that would have been difficult for us to take back, or them to have sustained. At which point, presumably the RAN would have taken over.

 

P3's might have been useful of course, but I think looking at a map South African Shackletons might have been more relevant. Presumably they had some Aussies on exchange with the Hereford Rifles and the Shaky Boats anyway.

 

 

Too bad the commonwealth doesn't do more role sharing like this. I think it would be a damn useful capability, particularly now.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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I never thought that the RAN would assist in pressing the reconquest. My thoughts were along the lines that if the the RN lost too many ships then the RAN would assist in the withdrawal.

 

Then there is the wiki quote:

 

"President Ronald Reagan approved the Royal Navy's request to borrow the Sea Harrier-capable amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) if the British lost an aircraft carrier. The United States Navy developed a plan to help the British man the ship with American military contractors, likely retired sailors with knowledge of Iwo Jima's systems.[36] France provided dissimilar aircraft training so Harrier pilots could train against the French aircraft used by Argentina.[37]"

 

How true that all was is anyone's guess, but even if it approached slightly that of veritate, it would mean that there were more than a couple of countries assisting the UK against what could be assumed to be a south American Fascist state.

Edited by DougRichards
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I think the claim the aircraft carrier was offered was true, I think it misrepresents what it means. I dont really see a US Navy amphibious assault ship sailing down there whilst the task force was being shot at. So that would mean presumably coming back, and then going down again after reequipping. I dont see this as being politically possible in the least. Going south was a one trick pony we would never have the politcal capital to do again. We barely did to do it once.

 

What I think it probably means is, assuming we lost a carrier and the war was over, they would supply a ship to replace the loss of either Hermes or Invincible. I could believe that. They knew how tightly strapped the RN was for vessels, but we still had NATO commitments to meet.

 

And as for withdrawing, I dont think it was much of a problem. I mean, the Argentine aircraft had short legs, and their Submarine fleet was fairly ineffectual. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the RAN, but I dont think you were much better off for fighting major surface combatants like the Belgrano than we were. I mean, maybe if you had held onto HMAS Australia. :)

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I think the claim the aircraft carrier was offered was true, I think it misrepresents what it means. I dont really see a US Navy amphibious assault ship sailing down there whilst the task force was being shot at. So that would mean presumably coming back, and then going down again after reequipping. I dont see this as being politically possible in the least. Going south was a one trick pony we would never have the politcal capital to do again. We barely did to do it once.

 

What I think it probably means is, assuming we lost a carrier and the war was over, they would supply a ship to replace the loss of either Hermes or Invincible. I could believe that. They knew how tightly strapped the RN was for vessels, but we still had NATO commitments to meet.

 

And as for withdrawing, I dont think it was much of a problem. I mean, the Argentine aircraft had short legs, and their Submarine fleet was fairly ineffectual. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the RAN, but I dont think you were much better off for fighting major surface combatants like the Belgrano than we were. I mean, maybe if you had held onto HMAS Australia. :)

 

Oberons may have been useful

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I think the claim the aircraft carrier was offered was true, I think it misrepresents what it means. I dont really see a US Navy amphibious assault ship sailing down there whilst the task force was being shot at. So that would mean presumably coming back, and then going down again after reequipping. I dont see this as being politically possible in the least. Going south was a one trick pony we would never have the politcal capital to do again. We barely did to do it once.

 

What I think it probably means is, assuming we lost a carrier and the war was over, they would supply a ship to replace the loss of either Hermes or Invincible. I could believe that. They knew how tightly strapped the RN was for vessels, but we still had NATO commitments to meet.

 

And as for withdrawing, I dont think it was much of a problem. I mean, the Argentine aircraft had short legs, and their Submarine fleet was fairly ineffectual. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the RAN, but I dont think you were much better off for fighting major surface combatants like the Belgrano than we were. I mean, maybe if you had held onto HMAS Australia. :)

 

Which one?

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The big one. :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Australia_(1911) Im still amazed at that. She was only 13 years old.

 

Well one or other of the HMSs Lion or HMSs Tiger would have been useful, after all the cousins of the earlier pair had been there just about 70 years before. It is a pity that the Canopus was not left in place with a basic crew for 70 years (not the same crew of course!). Much as in 1914 a salvo or three from her guns may have had the Argies thinking twice.

 

Of course it is just coincidence that two HMS Invincibles were involved in a battle at the same place so far from home.

 

The later Lion or Tiger, recently scrapped, would have been useful in 1983.

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IIRC, they were actually considering reactivating HMS TIger and Blake for the Falklands as a command ship, but thought better of it. Considering how much crew she took, its amazing they took the decision to refit them at all. They were great ships, but anything that required nearly 900 men to operate was starting to get into the realms of fantasy to operate by the 1980s.

 

In fact, I can recall seeing Tiger still afloat and still substantially intact, at least externally, as late as 1984. Pity we didnt keep one, at least as a museum ship.

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IIRC, they were actually considering reactivating HMS TIger and Blake for the Falklands as a command ship, but thought better of it. Considering how much crew she took, its amazing they took the decision to refit them at all. They were great ships, but anything that required nearly 900 men to operate was starting to get into the realms of fantasy to operate by the 1980s.

 

In fact, I can recall seeing Tiger still afloat and still substantially intact, at least externally, as late as 1984. Pity we didnt keep one, at least as a museum ship.

 

I recall HMS Tiger being described as an expensive means of taking four helicopters to sea.

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IIRC, they were actually considering reactivating HMS TIger and Blake for the Falklands as a command ship, but thought better of it. Considering how much crew she took, its amazing they took the decision to refit them at all. They were great ships, but anything that required nearly 900 men to operate was starting to get into the realms of fantasy to operate by the 1980s.

 

In fact, I can recall seeing Tiger still afloat and still substantially intact, at least externally, as late as 1984. Pity we didnt keep one, at least as a museum ship.

 

I recall HMS Tiger being described as an expensive means of taking four helicopters to sea.

 

I suspect it's guns would be useful for shore bombardment and likely better at taking any hits as well.

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I read about the development of Tiger in Hobbs' The British Carrier Strike Fleet, and it sounded like an absolute travesty in terms of replacing the carriers. How they could have passed this along as a replacement for a proper flattop is astounding.

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Fiscal desperation does funny things to people. We currently have the MOD faced with replacing 2 LPD's with 2 65000 ton aircraft carriers. Go figure.

 

I actually saw that book advertised on Amazon, is it any good?

 

Absolutely. You can tell that Hobbs wears his heart on his sleeve about carrier aviation, and it's on that borderline between readability and drowning in information dumps. I like how he goes into the nuts and bolts of aircraft design as well as the internal Royal Navy politics of decision-making for ships and carriers, as well as training and even the operations. His book on the British Pacific Fleet was quite good as well.

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Sounds like one to put on my list then. Thanks.

 

I was reading an interesting news Item when HMS Queen Elizabeth was launched, where the BBC tracked down a member of the original design team for CV01, the cancelled carrier project from 1966. He said he was glad it was cancelled, because the chancellor was expecting so many financial compromises in its construction it would have ended up with real issues in service. Which just goes to show how strong the Chancellor is in British military procurement, even back then.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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