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WEEK SEVEN, Falkland Area Operations 10th-16th May 1982

Argentine FAA Skyhawk

on to 29. Amphibious TG joins Task Force


Summary of Main Events

CVBG - CV Hermes, Invincible; DD Glamorgan, Coventry, Glasgow; FR Alacrity, Arrow, Brilliant, Broadsword, Yarmouth; RFA Fort Austin, Olmeda, Resource; with SBS and SAS

1. SHEFFIELD sank (10th)
2. Alacrity entered Falkland Sound from the south (10th)
3. Alacrity sank Isla de los Estados off Swan Is (10th/11th)
4. Alacrity met Arrow and headed back to CVBG (10th/11th)
5. Glasgow damaged off Stanley/Argentine aircraft lost - [a16,a17,a18] Skyhawks (12th)
6. Argentine aircraft lost at Goose Green - [a19] Skyhawk (12th)
7. PEBBLE ISLAND OPERATION (11th-15th) (1) SAS Boat Troop patrol ashore to reconnoitre (11th/12th)
(2) Hermes, Broadsword and Glamorgan approached and D Sqdn SAS landed by No.846 Sea Kings (14th)
8. Pebble Island Installations and aircraft destroyed and force returned to CVBG; Argentine aircraft lost - [a20-25] Pucaras, [a26-29] Mentors, [a30] Skyvan (14th/15th)
9. British aircraft lost east of Falklands - [b7] Sea King (12th)
10. Argentine cargo ship Rio Carcarana attacked and beached in Port King (16th)
11. Argentine transport Bahia Buen Suceso damaged at Fox Bay East (16th)

In the build-up to the landings at San Carlos, Admiral Woodward's destroyers and frigates continued to wear down the invaders and D Sqdn SAS made an important contribution with its Pebble Island raid. On Monday 10th, as submarine "San Luis" made her last reported and equally unsuccessful attack on ships of the Task Force and "Sheffield" finally sank, "Glasgow" (Sea Dart) and "Brilliant" (Sea Wolf) took over as type 42/22 combination from "Coventry" and "Broadsword" and continued their radar picket and bombardment duties off Stanley. That night as "Arrow" moved to the north end of Falkland Sound, sister ship "Alacrity" prepared to sail right through from the south for the first time to flush out any supply ships. As she passed up the Sound, "Alacrity" detected a small ship apparently heading for Port Howard, and using her single 4.5 inch, illuminated with star shell. Refusing to stop, the target was engaged in the only surface action of the war and after a number of hits, exploded and sank with heavy casualties. Reportedly there were only two survivors from what turned out to be the naval transport "ISLA DE LOS ESTADOS" carrying fuel and military supplies. "Alacrity" carried on through to meet "Arrow", and on Tuesday morning, both ships headed back to the carriers. Later that day, "Yarmouth" also returned from her attempts to tow "Sheffield" out of the TEZ.

On Wednesday afternoon (12th) with "Glasgow" and "Brilliant" still off Stanley, eight A-4B Skyhawks of Grupo 5 were sent in to attack the bombarding ships. The first flight came in low, and as "Brilliant" fired her Sea Wolf automatically for the first time in anger, two aircraft exploded in the air, a third crashed in to the sea trying to escape and the fourth dropped its bomb without hitting, and got away [a16, a17, a18]. The second flight of four came in some minutes later, but for technical reasons Sea Wolf could not fire, and this time "Glasgow" was hit by a bomb which went in one side and out the other without exploding or causing any casualties. Although the damage was not severe, she had to withdraw to the CVBG for repairs that took a number of days and eventually became the first British warship to return home. Meanwhile as these Skyhawks returned home, they passed too close to Goose Green and "Glasgow's" attacker was shot down by Argentine AA [a19].

Just a week before the landings, a raid was mounted by D Sqdn SAS on the airstrip and facilities at Pebble Island,especially to destroy the ground attack Pucaras based there. First of all men of the Squadron's Boat Troop were put ashore over Tuesday night to reconnoitre the area and three days later on Friday 14th, "Hermes" and escort "Broadsword" together with "Glamorgan" in the fire support role left the CVBG, and passing to the north, approached Pebble Island by night. As "Glamorgan" closed in to gunfire range, "Hermes" flew off the 48 SAS attackers and NGFO team in her No.846 Sea Kings to be guided in at midnight by the awaiting patrol. After a forced march to the airstrip, the attack went ahead led by Captain Hamilton, and all the aircraft there put out of action or destroyed by prepared charges. A fuel depot, ammo dump and radar installation were also destroyed. All this time "Glamorgan" provided gunfire support, and as the raiders withdrew, a brief Argentine counter-attack was halted when the officer in charge was shot. With two men slightly wounded the SAS were safely picked up again by the helicopters. The raid was a complete success and the Argentines not only lost six Pucaras of Grupo 3 [a20-25], four T-34C Mentors [a26-29] of CANA 4 Esc and one Coast Guard Skyvan [a30], but also the use of the airstrip at a crucial time. Now into Saturday morning, the warships returned to the CVBG, but "Glamorgan" soon moved on to other duties.

Although bad weather had restricted fixed wing flying earlier in the week, by Wednesday 12th it had improved sufficiently for high level bombing attacks to be made on Stanley, the same day a No.826 ASW Sea King from "Hermes" ditched near the CVBG with engine failure [b7]. The crew were saved. The next main action took place over the weekend as Sea Harriers continued to bomb Stanley. On Saturday night "Brilliant's" Lynx failed in an attack on the transport "Bahia Buen Suceso" in Fox Bay East, but "Hermes" aircraft more than made up for this next day. In the middle of Sunday 16th, two No.800 Sea Harriers bombed and strafed the blockade running cargo ship "Rio Carcarana" (8,500 grt) at anchor off Port King and although there were no casualties, she caught fire, was beached and abandoned, finally to be destroyed by "Antelope's" Lynx a week later. Another two aircraft caught the "Bahia Buen Suceso" still at Fox Bay East alongside the jetty and raked her with cannon fire. Bombs were not used because of the ship's proximity to the settlement, but the damage was enough to deny her use by the Argentines, and she stayed there until after the war.

Following the Pebble Island raid, HMS Glamorgan took on the job of convincing the Argentines that any landings would take place on East Falkland, south of the capital. For a number of nights, she bombarded Stanley and moved down the coast as far as Choiseul Sound carrying out a variety of deception activities. Other SBS and SAS operations were no doubt taking place all this time, and over Sunday night "Alacrity" sailed through Falkland Sound again and landed an SBS/NGFO team by Gemini near Sussex Mountains which overlooks the landing beaches around San Carlos Water.

Sea Harriers of No 800 NAS aboard HMS Hermes in "typical foul weather" in the Atlantic during winter.
Probably taken post-war, but typical of South Atlantic conditions during the Falkland's War (Courtesy - MOD, Navy)


HMS Brilliant firing Sea Wolf at Argentine Skyhawks off Stanley -  three were shot down or crashed
from the
Art of Daniel Bechennec


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revised 31/5/13