Argentine naval forces in the Falklands War

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This article describes the composition and actions of the Argentine naval forces in the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas). For a list of naval forces from the United Kingdom, see British naval forces in the Falklands War.

Background[edit]

The Argentine Navy (ARA), particularly its commander-in-chief and Junta member, Admiral Jorge Anaya, was the main architect and supporter of a military solution to resolve the long-standing claim of sovereignty over the islands. His first attempt came in 1976 when he was the Navy Chief's Operations of the recently established Military dictatorship but General Videla and Admiral Massera were more busy disappearing people at that time.[1] By 1982 the country was already in the midst of a devastating economic crisis and large-scale civil unrest against the repressive government and Anaya, now a member of the ruling Junta, ordered Operation Rosario to be brought forward to 2 April, after a group of Argentina military infiltrated a group of Argentine scrap metal merchants and raised the Argentine flag at South Georgia 19 March.

General Galtieri, acting president, agreed in his intention to mount a quick, symbolic occupation, followed rapidly by a withdrawal, leaving only a small garrison to support the new military governor and force the UK to begin talks on the long-delayed sovereignty claim. On 2 April an amphibious landing was made at Stanley and on 3 April Argentine marines used helicopters to take over the Georgias. Whilst the military junta was redeploying the assault units back to their home bases they found the British responded with a large-scale mobilisation to organise a naval task force and ground forces to retake the islands by force.

The war could not have happened at a worse time for the Argentines. They were expecting new destroyers, frigates and submarines being built in West Germany and their shipment of French Super Etendards and Exocets were not yet complete. On the other hand, the Royal Navy was in middle of great cutbacks that would have eliminated its force of aircraft carriers and amphibious forces in the coming months.

Argentine Navy[edit]

Operation Rosario (2 April)[edit]

Vice Admiral Juan José Lombardo
Ships that only participated in the initial invasion, 2 April:

Task Group 20[edit]

Commander José Sarcona

Task Group 40[edit]

Rear Admiral Jorge Allara

South Georgia (3 April)[edit]

Falklands Theatre of Operations [Teatro de Operaciones Malvinas] (2 April-14 June)[edit]

South Atlantic Theatre of Operations [Teatro de Operaciones del Atlántico Sur] (15 April-14 Jun)[edit]

Direct control from Bahía Blanca, Buenos Aires Province.
Vice Admiral Juan Lombardo

Task Group 79.1[edit]

Rear Admiral Jorge Allara
ARA San Luis sister ship, ARA Salta, was not operational at the time of the war.

Task Group 79.3[edit]

Captain Héctor Bonzo

Task Group 79.4[edit]

Captain Juan Calmon

Submarine force[edit]

Others[edit]

Argentine Coast Guard[edit]

Stationed at the Falkland Islands.

Argentine Merchant Navy[edit]

Blockade Runners[edit]

  • Formosa - A 12,762 ton cargo ship, attacked by Argentine Douglas A-4 Skyhawks of Grupo 5 by mistake. She was hit by an unexploded 1,000 lb bomb and strafed while bounded for Rio Gallegos. Survived the conflict.
  • Mar del Norte - A cargo ship from La Naviera company. Survived the conflict.
  • Lago Argentino - An ELMA cargo ship. Survived the conflict.
  • Río Cincel - An ELMA cargo ship. Survived the conflict.
  • Puerto Rosales - A commercial tanker from YPF. Survived the conflict.
  • Río Carcarañá - An ELMA cargo ship, 8,500 tons, damaged by Sea Harriers in Port King. Subsequently attacked by both sides, until finally sunk by Sea Skua missiles fired from a Westland Lynx helicopter on 23 May 1982.[5]
  • Yehuin - A requisitioned oil tender, 494 tons, from Geomater company. Captured 15 June 1982 and renamed Falkland Sound. Sold to a British owner from London in 1991, then transferred to several Panamanian companies. Returned to Argentine control as Audax II when bought by Cintra company in 2008, but still under Panamanian register.[6]

Spy trawlers[edit]

  • Narwal: Owned by Compañía Sudamericana de Pesca y Exportación from Bahía Blanca. A 1,300 ton stern fishing freezer trawler. On patrol northwest of the exclusion zone since 26 April. Under the command of Lt. Cdr. Juan Carlos González Llanos. The civilian skipper was Captain Nestor Leonardo Fabiano. She made a number of visual contacts with British aircraft and warships, including a submarine, according to the Argentine version.[7] Damaged by an unexploded 1,000 lb. bomb and 30 mm ADEN cannon fire from two BAe Sea Harrier FRS.Mk.1s of 800 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Hermes. A member of the crew, sailor Omar Alberto Rupp, was killed. She was later captured by Royal Marines on 9 May 1982. She eventually sank in a storm at 52°45′S 58°02′W / 52.750°S 58.033°W / -52.750; -58.033 on 10 May 1982.(†1)
  • María Alejandra: Owned by Inda hnos. from Mar del Plata. On patrol northwest of the exclusion zone from 26 April to 4 May. She assisted the disabled ARA Alférez Sobral to reach Puerto Deseado.[8] Maria Alejandra also acted as a radio link between the ill-fated Narwal and the mainland.[9]
  • Constanza: Owned by Arpemar from Mar del Plata. On patrol northwest of the exclusion zone from 26 April to 4 May.[10]
  • Invierno: Owned by Arpemar from Mar del Plata. On patrol northwest of the exclusion zone from 5 to 9 May.[8]
  • Capitán Canepa: Based at Mar del Plata. From the government fishery agency SEIM.[11]
  • María Luisa: Based at Mar del Plata. Spotted a British warship on 26 April, shortly after being overflown by a fighter jet. This revealed to the Argentine intelligence the path of the British battle group. Part of a three-trawler flotilla that intercepted supply vessel RFA Fort Grange on 29 April at the position 34°28′S 31°26′W / 34.467°S 31.433°W / -34.467; -31.433.[9] On 30 April she returned to Mar del Plata due to mechanical problems.[10]
  • Usurbil: Based at Buenos Aires. Under the command of Lt. Cdr. Fernando Pedro Amorena. The civilian skipper was Captain Adolfo Antonio Arbelo from Mar del Plata. Fifty per cent of her crew was Spanish. Part of a three-trawler flotilla that intercepted supply vessel RFA Fort Grange on 29 April at the position 34°28′S 31°26′W / 34.467°S 31.433°W / -34.467; -31.433.[9] She made radar contact with six ships sailing in convoy on 8 May. Warned off by a warship and a helicopter, she returned to Buenos Aires.[10]
  • Mar Azul: Based at Mar del Plata. Part of a three-trawler flotilla that intercepted supply vessel RFA Fort Grange on 29 April at the position 34°28′S 31°26′W / 34.467°S 31.433°W / -34.467; -31.433.[9] She tracked the 8 May convoy by radar along with Usurbil, but was ordered to return to Mar del Plata on 9 May before making visual contact.[10][11][12]
  • Río de la Plata II: An ELMA cargo vessel of 10,409 tons. Spotted by British off Ascension Island and warned off on 24 April 1982. The most successful Argentine spy ship; she collected valuable intelligence about the type of warships, logistic craft and merchantmen deployed by the British to the south.[13]

Falkland Islands Company ships seized by the Argentine Navy[edit]

Coaster Monsunen.
  • ARA Forrest - armed coaster: She fought off the Lynx helicopter that put the patrol craft Islas Malvinas out of action near Kidney Island on 1 May. The aircraft came back to HMS Alacrity with serious damage from small arms fire.[14][15] The ship rescued two survivors of the crew of ARA Isla de los Estados, sunk by Alacrity on 10 May. She towed ARA Monsunen to Darwin later in the war, after this ship faced the attack of two British frigates and a helicopter. She uploaded ARA Monsunen's cargo and completed the supply mission to Stanley on 25 May. The ship was involved in harbour duties until the end of the war.
  • ARA Monsunen - armed coaster: She survived the attack of two British frigates and a helicopter, successfully avoiding them by running aground at Seal Cove. Her supply mission was eventually carried out by ARA Forrest, which towed her to Darwin. Recovered by British forces on 29 May, after the battle of Goose Green.
  • ARA Penelope - schooner: Spotted by ARA Bahía Buen Suceso at Speedwell Island and seized by an Argentine crew on 7 May.[16] She accomplished a logistic mission from Fox Bay to Stanley. While uploading her cargo, the schooner endured a naval bombardment by HMS Plymouth on Fox Bay's fuel depots during the first hours of 26 May. She eventually reached Stanley on 2 June.[17]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ MALVINAS, LA TRAMA SECRETA, CARDOSO OSCAR RAUL, KIRSCHBAUM RICARDO, VAN DER KOOY EDUARDO ISBN 950-742-863-1
  2. ^ A Lynx from HMS Coventry armed with Sea Skua miisles arrived and sank the Comodoro Somellera
  3. ^ ARA Comodoro Somellera 1995 picture
  4. ^ Sunk in Ushuaia port during a storm after collision with ARA Suboficial Castillo (A-6)
  5. ^ Morgan, David (2006). "Chapter 6". Hostile Skies. Phoenix. pp. 140–141. ISBN 978-0-7538-2199-2. "She was later attacked by Argentine A4s, shelled by one of our frigates and finally attacked by Antelope's Lynx, which sank her on 23 May with 2 Sea Skua missiles." 
  6. ^ DDG Hansa (German)
  7. ^ Mayorga, page 300
  8. ^ a b Los pesqueros argentinos en la Gesta de Malvinas (Spanish)
  9. ^ a b c d Muñoz, Jorge (2000) Misión Cumplida. Editorial Epopeya, p. 141 (Spanish)
  10. ^ a b c d Mayorga, pp. 170-171
  11. ^ a b Gambini, Hugo: Crónica documental de las Malvinas. V.2, page 1080. Editorial Redacción, 1982. (Spanish)
  12. ^ Scheina, Robert L.: Latin America: a naval history, 1810-1987. Naval Institute Press, 1987, page 244. ISBN 0-87021-295-8
  13. ^ Mayorga, page 169
  14. ^ HMS Alacrity
  15. ^ Mayorga, pp. 144-145
  16. ^ Mayorga, page 313
  17. ^ Herrscher, pp. 91-93, 104-105, 112-113

References[edit]