Falklands War - Submarine Attack on HMS Arrow

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Jacques_Bustard, May 31, 2006.

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  1. On a recent visit to the Imperial War Museum in the North (well worth a visit) I read a letter on display written by a matlot on HMS Arrow during the Falklands war. In it he claims that when the Arrow went to the aid of the Sheffield after it was hit by an Exocet they had to take evasive action after two torpedos were at them. I've not heard this claim before, I think one of the two Argentine submarines was put out of action at South Georgia, did the other put in any attacks? If so how come it was in torpedo range so soon after an air attack?
  2. Admiral Woodward's initial signal to Northwood on 4 May stated: 'Sheffield suffered internal explosion in Ops Room...suspect torpedoed'.

    There was, at the time (according to the Official History) a fear that the San Luis was in the area, and it may, perhaps, have been the case that the Arrow misinterpreted events and assumed it was under attack? It's not impossible to imagine a situation in which this could have happened through false sonar contacts or something similar.

    Woodward made some reference to the nature of the response to the attack, referring to Yarmouth and Arrow going off 'sardine can bashing' after the attack in the mistaken belief that an enemy submarine had been involved.

    Perhaps posting the query on Rum Ration might get a response from someone who was there (if you've not done that already)?
  3. DPM

    DPM Old-Salt

    This subject is mentioned in Hugh Bicheno's new Unofficial Flaklands History 'Razors Edge'. It's not a bad read, talks a lot about terrain analysis and the land war (plus a lot of politics), but also mentions 1 of the Argentinian subs almost permanently stationed off the N of the islands. I've not got the book in front of me, but I think that he claims that a sub did indeed fire a few 'salvoes', but well out of range, the comedy being that the RN role at the time was counter-sub, and they never manged to find any.

    Probably had enough on their plate.

  4. Hello
    AFAIK, on May 4th., the sole SSK (ARA San Luis S-32) patrolling the TEZ was nowhere near Sheffield on 04MAY1982...

    Also, I do not recall any attempted attacks (I say attempted since SST4 Torps were faulty) on that date...

    Will look into that ater, when I get home

  5. I can confirm that no contacts or attacks are registered on the ship's (S-32's) log for 04MAY1982

    ARA San Luis was patrolling mostly north of the islands, in shallow waters, to avoid the SSN's

  6. ISTR, according to Woodward, that there was some sort of drama eventually traced to an outboard dinghy used during the firefighting...apparently someone took the prop noise to be "the enemy".
  7. Thanks all for your replies, clearly after the attack on Sheffield everyone was understandably jumpy.
  8. This may be of interest. It is a report from one of the Officers serving in the SAN LOUIS in May 1982

    I found this information on the Brilliant website


    "Though Captain Azcueta informed this news to the Command of the Submarine Force, this one decided that the "San Luis" kept on in operations since its twin ship, the " Salta ", was being repaired without any sure date of returning to service and they considered it better to have a submarine in the area even with the descripted limitations. It is important to mention that the old "Santa Fe", at that moment was travelling to the Georgias and beside, the Argentinean military ports have not possibility for the submarines to return and remain with enough caution. On 27dt it was ordered tu continue navigation towards the sector called "Maria" located on the North East of the Soledad island, were they arrived on the 2g11 .
    From the very beginning of the Rosario operation, it was known that the British Navy had got under way at least tWo nuclear submarines to the Malvinas Zone and a powerful surface fleet with a high specialization in antisub- marine warfare was approaching. The prospect was not very encouraging for the commander of the "San Luis" and besides its twin, the " Salta " did not weigh anchor because of administrative and technical problems.
    The conventional type submarines, that is to say die- sel electric, though they have a maximum very significative speed, this can only be developed for short period because the batteries are exhausted quickly. That is way they use as a tactic to have a patrol at low speed in a sector where the enemy is supposed to pass, to attack them there and search for another target.
    On May 1 SI, the sonar operator of the "San Luis" notice rumors of warships. It is important to say that the computer that in that moment the submarine had, did not
    2 The submarine "Salta", was in "Puerto Belgrano" being repaired for a severe problem of noises that made it unacceptable for war operations. It also had flows in its. Its Commander, Lieutenant Commander Ma- nuel Riveiro had to be relieved of duty for private problems. On April 17th, he new Commander took over Captain Roberto Salinas. The technical problems were not solved at the end of the conflict and it did not have the chance of taking part in the battle.
    have the possibility of registering thesoOOd signatUres of the ship in the memory of the computers therefore, declas- sification of the same could only be determined globally through the type of ship detected, such as frigate aircraft carriers, merchant, submarines, etc. and a mayor precision was obtained if electronics emissio~ was detected by the countermeasures sensors. At 8 in the morning, the Commander orders the cover combat positions. With a good sound propagation, the "San Luis" was stationing in shooting position with the greatest cautiousness. At 10: 15 hs the launching off a torpedo SST -4 is made on a target classified as a destroyer, located according to the estimations of the Commander at about 10,000 yards. Tree or four minutes later the submarine loses contact with the torpedo prematurely, because of a wire cut and not explosion is heard. The attack had failed.
    The enemy's answer was not made wait. At 13.00 a British helicopter dumped an antisubmarine torpedo, that could be avoided thanks to evasive maneuvers and launch- ing chaff. The "San Luis" went bound to the Malvinas coast and it found a stony bottom and there it "landed" at almost 6 knots on the teflon bar it has to protect the bottom of the hull. In a somewhat line position the ship suffered in strict si- lence the attack with depth bombs, that though did not ex- ploded near, were used by the enemy as a pressure element and to make difficult the hydrophonic hearing on the side of the submarine.
    At 20:00, the emissions of the enemy seen to go away. At 21, worried because the nearness to the coast could prevent them from manoeuvering freely, the Commander decide to search for open water. In this moment the insufficiency of the bilge pump was made clear. The submarine took forty endless minutes to lift from the bottom of the sea.3
    3 To be able to lay at the bottom of the sea the submarine flood their tanks during the take-off manoeuver, this water should be expulsed by the bilge pumps.
    The Argentinean ship was attacked again a nearly ex- plosion was perceived by all the crew. The bottom of the sea is searched for again. The crew starts to live in complete silence, one of the most difficult war situation for any combatant: The silence and the emotional balance to only answer to an attack. Moments of great tension are lived inside the submarine. Every sector of the ship becomes a small world different from the other. The spirit of each crewman reacts inside the psychological individual param- eters. Really, it is a combat situation which has not any previous training.
    Such a long time of tensions suffered by the crew has not possibility of description, 36 human beings enclosed in a metallic cylinder without any chance of surviving in case of being reached by an explosion. From the engine room up to the one of torpedo, moments of infinite anguish were lived. The Commander in the solitude of his commanding always knew how to keep control of the situation.
    Having the danger passed, the submarine searched for snorkel depth at 5 o'clock on May 2nd and still in the darkness they proceeded to change batteries. The crew showed tiredness for accumulation of so many hours of tension and they rested when they could. The manoeuvre was interrupted when the "San Luis" detected again by means of its sensors the emissions of the enemy destroyers, but finally it was not attacked again.
    Within the art of war, the fight between the subma- cine and the surface units, is surely one of the most complex maneuvers, that requires temperance, patience and cunning. From the ship in immersion, eventhougth the emissions of the enemy sonar are heard by means of the sensors, one cannot know if this one has really detected it. It is also possible that if the surface unit finds the submarine, it manoeuvres and emits in such away that the Commander of the submarine thinks that it has not been detected, until its being able to attack efficiently with the embarked heli- copters".
  9. F*ck being a sun-dodger that's all I can say. Especially an enemy sun-dodger knowing how good ours are...
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