Old BBC documentary about the defence of the Falklands task group - technical aspects

Yokel

LE
This is an old BBC documentary, part of the Horizon series and from 1985 or 1986, that covers the technical issues relating to the fight against Argentine aircraft in the Falklands. Many of the lessons are still relevant - such as the need to engage at maximum range, the need for fighters, the need for Airborne Early Warning, defence in depth, and so on. It relates to many ARRSE threads that cover naval/carrier related issues.











Attention:
@jrwlynch
@Not a Boffin
@alfred_the_great
@Guns
@Dunservin
@bob231
@Goatman
@Dashing_Chap
@Magic_Mushroom
@Alamo
@Solo Dave
@Himmler74
@Goldbricker
@Steamboat
@ECMO1
@LeoRoverman
@jagman2
@Cold_Collation
@fantassin

I have posted those YouTube videos here as they seem relevant to a number of threads. My agenda is a pro carrier one, as evidenced by my posts on the CVF and Carrier Strike thread, and the PPRuNe Future Carrier thread. I have also been less than impressed by the assumption that some make that a carrier exists only to attack targets ashore (not what USN carriers were for during the Cold War - see thread), or that frigates and destroyers defend the carrier as opposed to the AAW destroyer and carrier based aircraft working together, or frigates working with ASW helicopters.

But apart from that agenda, I would like to see more learning and less witch hunting, and more systems thinking.

If it interest you, you can find the HMS Sheffield BOI reports here.
 
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PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Sheffield was lost through human error and incompetence.
The PWO left the ops room and didn't do a handover.
The other ships correctly identified the threat and went defensive, she didn’t.
 

Yokel

LE
I won't , my name is on the ze list

Sorry Private Pike. Neither were:

@Seadog
@SONAR-BENDER
@RCT(V)
@Ravers
@instinct

...and many others.

Sheffield was lost through human error and incompetence.
The PWO left the ops room and didn't do a handover.
The other ships correctly identified the threat and went defensive, she didn’t.

It was the AAWO. Do you really think Sea Dart would have splashed the Exocet? Or are you assuming that the chaff would have worked? Things are rarely the fault of one person.

If the task group had AEW...
If they task group had more fighters with better radar...
If we had not sold two Type 42s to Argentina...
If the Type 42s had been given a better radar without excessive beamwidth...
 
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This is an old BBC documentary, part of the Horizon series and from 1985 or 1986, that covers the technical issues relating to the fight against Argentine aircraft in the Falklands. Many of the lessons are still relevant - such as the need to engage at maximum range, the need for fighters, the need for Airborne Early Warning, defence in depth, and so on. It relates to many ARRSE threads that cover naval/carrier related issues.











Attention:
@jrwlynch
@Not a Boffin
@alfred_the_great
@Guns
@Dunservin
@bob231
@Goatman
@Dashing_Chap
@Magic_Mushroom
@Alamo
@Solo Dave
@Himmler74
@Goldbricker
@Steamboat
@ECMO1
@LeoRoverman
@jagman2
@Cold_Collation
@fantassin

user has load of interest war vids

&


which I enjoyed even more...
 
Sheffield was lost through human error and incompetence.
The PWO left the ops room and didn't do a handover.
The other ships correctly identified the threat and went defensive, she didn’t.
He was my CO when I worked with the Navy at Northwood - a very strange man and when they did the documentary back in 2001 he strangely took leave can't think why :rolleyes:
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The AAWO put out a statement a few years back explaining his actions on the day. Particularly interesting reading regarding the decision not to use chaff and the lack of AAW experience of both the CO and XO.

I don’t really have anything to add to his statement, but as someone who’s spent many many days, weeks and probably months sat on the air desk in a Type 42 ops room, it is certainly not normal for people just to leave during their watch, regardless of rate. Even going for piss is frowned upon. Although this could’ve been a change brought about as a result of the Sheffield incident.

He also justifies leaving the ops room by saying that it’s quite normal to leave the ops room to read signals in the MCO (Main Communications Office) during a watch. This is correct but the MCO on a 42 is next door to the ops room. There is even a window between the two to pass signals quickly and so you can talk (shout) between the two. By comparison the bridge on a 42 is directly above the ops room but three decks (and three steep ladders) up.

This is Nick Batho's statement on the SHEFFIELD attack as posted on the Save Our Shipmates website around the time the BoI papers were released to the public in 2006:
The Loss of HMS SHEFFIELD


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gentlemen. My name is Nick Batho and I have just become aware of this forum. In view of the considerable interest shown by many contributers in what I did or did not do, where I was at any given time and my reasons for my actions, I thought I should immediately post this message for you all to read. I have withheld nothing and what follows is the absolute truth, clouded only by the passing of time.

First some background information. Before bring sent down south, SHEFFIELD was returning home from a Gulf deployment. The Operational Effectiveness of the ship at the end of the deployment was not particularly high. This is because it was impossible to get decent AAW training on deployment due to the lack of suitable assets and skills were not well honed. It was over 6 months since the ship had been to Portland. During the passage south, some training was achieved, but once on station there was virtually no training against live targets due to the need to deploy ships and aircraft on operational missions. We were particularly forbidden to lock up on our own Sea Harriers due to the fact that the Argentines had their own Type 42's'

The Captain, Sam Salt, had joined mid-deployment and had not been onboard during the pre-deployment work-up. As a submariner he had only very limited knowledge of AAW. The XO had been present for the work-up, but he was a rotary wing aviator and so he too had little or no knowledge of how to fight a Type 42 from the Ops Room. I mention this because in Defence Watches it would have been normal to have the Co and the XO working opposite each other in the Ops room as the Command. This did not happen in SHEFFIELD, I think, but cannot be sure, this is because the background of these 2 officers would not have fitted them for this task. What it meant was that we had one less warfare officer in the chain of Command than might have been expected. As the Ops Officer, with only 1 year in as a LtCdr, I felt this lack of top cover in the Ops Room and in our planning and operational discussions very much.

The Threat. At the time of the attack the ship was in receipt of a mass of highly classified intelligence information regarding the capability of the Argentines and the weapons which they had available. It was clearly stated in one of these signals that, although they had some air launched Exocet missiles, they had NOT been able to integrate them with the Super E launch platform. Clearly we all know now that this was wrong - but at the time it was something which I noted and took seriously. The air threat against ships was stated to be iron bombs. The aiming system for these bombs was a visual sight and so for there to be a threat, the pilots had to be able to see their target.

The Attack. On the day in question the TF was at Air Threat Warning Yellow. I cannot now recall the exact definition of this state but it was one down from the top. As I recall, we had been at ATW Yellow for several days without any sign of Argentine Aircraft or any indication of an attack. SHEFFIELD had been at Defence watches for the same length of time, but without the watch and watch about routine of CO/XO in the Ops Room which was certainly the case in ships I served in later in my career. I say without any sign of an attack, but there had been numerous scares/false alarms about the AGAVE radar (codename I think was Condor). This was because the characteristics of Condor were very similar to the characteristics of the radar in the Sea Harrier. Each time Condor had been called, it subsequently transpired to be the Sea Harrier. This naturally led us all to be very circumspect when Condor was mentioned. I would like at this stage to mention something about Chaff. Part of the well practised response to an incoming missile threat was to deploy both Chaff C (for Confusion - fired by the 4.5'') and then Chaff D (for distraction fired by the 3'' rockets). A factor in the decision to fire Chaff D which has not been mentioned was that we only had (I think) about 48 rockets onboard. At 16 rockets per pattern this means we only had enough rockets for 3 full patterns of D. I know with hindsight this seem ridiculous and wrong (which it was) but I am sure there was an inbuilt reluctance to deploy Chaff D until we were sure that a missile was on its way, so as not to waste our small number of missiles.

Back to the attack. Before I went on watch (at 1200 - might have been 1230) I visited the bridge. Apart from gaining a general update from the OOW, I did this specifically to check on the cloud base. This is because, based on the intelligence, we were facing a visually aimed iron bomb threat and the cloud base is a critical factor in the vulnerability which we faced. I cannot now remember what the cloud base (NOT the cloud cover) was but I do know that estimating it is something which it is easy for the more inexperienced to get wrong. At sometime during my watch I asked the OOW on Openline to check the cloud base for me. He came back with a figure which was significantly different to the base which I had seen before going on watch. This concerned me because, if he was correct there was now a significant change in the potential threat which we faced. A high base meant we were vulnerable whereas a low base meant that we could not be attacked since the pilots could not see the target. The OOW concerned was one of the less experienced and so I decided, taking into consideration the long period without any other activity, that due to the importance in my mind of this estimate, that I would visit the bridge to see for myself. Remember that intelligence had told us to expect iron bombs and not exocet. Iron bombs can only be launched when the attack aircraft is on top of its target. This meant that we would have plenty of warning of an attack should one develop. This thinking (about warning time) also influenced my decision to visit the bridge. Once on the bridge I spent a short time looking at the cloud base and conversing with the OOW. All this time I could keep in touch with what was happening in the Ops Room since the OOW was on Open line. I should add that at Defence watches it was quite normal for the PWO and/or the AAW to leave the Ops Room to visit the MCO to read signal traffic -particularly the highly classsified signals. At the time I did not regard it as wrong to visit the bridge to check on the cloud base. Clearly now, with hindsight, I wish that I had thought differently and believed the OOW, but I cannot change what happened, however much I wish I could. I would though like to reject absolutely the suggestion by some of your correspondents that I was skiving off because the CO was in his cabin and I thought I could 'get away with it'. The truth of the matter is as I have explained. After discussing things with the bridge team for a while, I left to go back to the Ops Room. There are 2 ladders which come out on 2 deck next to the Ops Room, one on each side of the ship. One of these ladders comes down the other side of a watertight door in the Port passageway and requires you to go through it to get into the Ops Room, the other comes out in the Stbd passageway the same side of the door as the Ops Room and lets you get into the Ops Room without opening a Watertight Door. As we were at 2Y the doors were closed, normally at 3X they would have been open. I decided to go down the ladder on the Starboard side which would avoid me opening a W/T door to get to the Ops Room. Going down this way took me close to my cabin on the SAME level as the Wardroom and I did go into my cabin to look at a Top Secret Pack to check the details of the aiming system for the Iron bombs used by the Argentines. This information was not readily available in the Ops Room as it was contained in a TS Codeword signal which could not be left around for anyone to read. Having checked on the data in the pack - which required me to open my safe, I went through the wardroom and the pantry so that I could get to the ladder on the Starboard side, thus avoiding the need to open a W/T door. On going through the Wardroom, I meet a small group of stewards. They asked me how things were going and, aware of how isolated they must have felt not being privvy to any of the operational information, I took a few moments to talk to them and to try and reassure tham that they were safe and that all was well. It may well be that I was given a cup of coffee during this converstaion but the coffee was NOT my reason for being in the W/R. It was simply on my route to the Ops Room. Whilst I was having this converstaion I heard a Main Broadcast pipe (AAWO OPs Room). I immediately shot down the ladder outside the aft pantry door and into the Ops Room. The PWO met me and said 'Condor' had been reported. I think, but cannot now be sure, he meant this had been reported by another unit. I went to my seat, put on my headphones and immediately asked the Fighter Controller if he had any CAP on the reported bearing. He answered in the negative. I then turned my attention to my display and could see a mass of autotrack 'eggs' and possibly one or two close or closing confirmed tracks. I spoke to the APR(L) who said that the trackers were doing their best to establish confirmed tracks. There was a frenzy of activity on the display and I was aware of the Missile Gun Director Blind standing Seadart 'to' but he was not able to achieve a lock onto any target with the 909 radar. I did not deploy Chaff D since I could not be sure what was happening. I am sure I was influenced in this decision by the acute shortage of Chaff rockets I mention above and by the fact that I was expecting only iron bomb attacks. The next thing I was aware of was a 'thump' hitting the ship. Not a large explosion - more like a heavy bump during an alongside. After the hit, I think the EWD reported that he had picked up Exocet missile head parameters. Throughout this short period I did not hear or make any external transmissions on my headset. I cannot be sure but I would have expected to be on AAWC UHF with the other pickets although they were at extreme UHF range. I cannot comment on any exchanges on other circuits.

As you all know the SCOT was transmitting just before the attack and since it used the same part of the frequency spectrum as the Agave radar we would have been blind to Agave and exocet head during transmission. Permission to transmit on Scot would have been given taking into account the factors I have already mentioned -ie several days at ATW Yellow/Defence watches without incident. Clearly we had to use it at some stage to pick up our signal traffic and could not keep SCOT silent for ever. I do not know from my own knowledge, but I would have expected the PWO to order 'strangle SCOT' as soon as he was aware of the Condor report. The fact that we subsequently picked up the missile head would support this.

Turning to my own thoughts on all this. As one of your correspondents stated, my name has been banded about on television and in the papers (and on this site) as the man responsible for the loss of SHEFFIELD. That has been very hard for me to live with and even more hard for my family. There are few who have to carry the burden of the loss of 20 men with them for ever. Which of you reading this would like to attend a reunion feeling the way I do? I would like to emphasise that there is no question of any other members of the ships company being "asleep" or in any way being slack or lazy in the carrying out of their duties. Everyone did their absolute best in very very difficult circumstances.
As another of your correspondents said - time heals very very slowly and of course all that you are doing, with which I have no argument, only slows the process down even more - particularly for the berieved. I have never before committed my side of events to paper/e-mail. I would be the first to admit that I made a serious error of judgement and I should have stayed in the Ops Room throughout my watch. The only thing I would say is that there is no certainty that if I had, the outcome would have been different. Nevertheless, I apologise without reservation for my mistakes and hope that by reading this you can at least come to a better understanding of what I did, why I did it and sense the humility and sadness I feel about the events which happened so far away, so long ago.
 
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Yokel

LE
user has load of interest war vids

&


which I enjoyed even more...

You are not meant to enjoy it - you are meant to watch and learn. Airborne Early Warning detects low flyers. Fighters give you the means to inflict attrition before the bandits are in range to fire anti ship missiles, and before they are in range of shipborne weapons. Carriers are key to the survival of any naval force facing hostile airpower - or indeed submarines.

The AAWO put out a statement a few years back explaining his actions on the day. Particularly interesting reading regarding the decision not to use chaff and the lack of AAW experience of both the CO and XO.

I don’t really have anything to add to his statement, but as someone who’s spent many many days, weeks and probably months sat on the air desk in a Type 42 ops room, it is certainly not normal for people just to leave during their watch, regardless of rate. Even going for piss is frowned upon. Although this could’ve been a change brought about as a result of the Sheffield incident.

This is Nick Batho's statement on the SHEFFIELD attack as posted on the Save Our Shipmates website around the time the BoI papers were released to the public in 2006:

I will read that properly later.

@Magic_Mushroom once said on a similar thread that if the task group had AEW, then he reckoned no ships would have been lost. Once again I think the following picture really does paint a thousand words:

AAW Zones.jpg


@instinct - how much of a sense of security would Phalanx give you?
 
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Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The AAWO put out a statement a few years back explaining his actions on the day. Particularly interesting reading regarding the decision not to use chaff and the lack of AAW experience of both the CO and XO.

I don’t really have anything to add to his statement, but as someone who’s spent many many days, weeks and probably months sat on the air desk in a Type 42 ops room, it is certainly not normal for people just to leave during their watch, regardless of rate. Even going for piss is frowned upon. Although this could’ve been a change brought about as a result of the Sheffield incident.

This is Nick Batho's statement on the SHEFFIELD attack as posted on the Save Our Shipmates website around the time the BoI papers were released to the public in 2006:
Whatever happened on that day, that's clearly a man who's suffered every day since.
 
Whatever happened on that day, that's clearly a man who's suffered every day since.
Being a Sheffielder and having attended a HMS Sheffield Association dinner a few times they despise the man and there is no forgiveness forthcoming. He should have been CMd is there opinion.

I would like to think he does suffer daily as it's his actions or inaction that directly contributed to the loss of life and ultimately the loss of the ship
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Being a Sheffielder and having attended a HMS Sheffield Association dinner a few times they despise the man and there is no forgiveness forthcoming. He should have been CMd is there opinion.

I would like to think he does suffer daily as it's his actions or inaction that directly contributed to the loss of life and ultimately the loss of the ship
And I can understand that. I wasn’t defending or dismissing. It’s not my place. I was just observing that he clearly carries the burden.
 
At least the comments on the videos didn't disappoint.

By jingo the spics are sore losers.
 
And I can understand that. I wasn’t defending or dismissing. It’s not my place. I was just observing that he clearly carries the burden.
I think we all would buddy - my biggest concern in Afghanistan and Iraq always was would my actions/orders lead to any of my lads and lasses getting hurt/killed, and would my orders actions have been justified etc. As looking someone's wife, husband, mum, dad etc in the eye if they hadn't been would have been impossible
 

philc

LE
Sheffield was lost through human error and incompetence.
The PWO left the ops room and didn't do a handover.
The other ships correctly identified the threat and went defensive, she didn’t.

Dont need to watch now, thanks for the spoilers.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
It was the AAWO. Do you really think Sea Dart would have splashed the Exocet? Or are you assuming that the chaff would have worked? Things are rarely the fault of one person.

If the task group had AEW...
If they task group had more fighters with better radar...
If we had not sold two Type 42s to Argentina...
If the Type 42s had been given a better radar without excessive beamwidth...


Well lets think about that

Close up, spin up all the donks to full, turn fine to the threat, chaff like mad - absolutely basic stuff not done by Sheffield but done by Glasgow. Swanning along at cruising stations beam on to the threat - not a good idea.
Time was lost while the bods on the spot took over while Batho was MIA having a coffee and read of Janes in the Wardoom. 'At the rush' meant drop that cup of coffee and run, not saunter back in his own time.

Sheffield wasn't lost because the Exocet was some invincible steely messenger of death, she was lost because she quite simply didn't defend herself.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Being a Sheffielder and having attended a HMS Sheffield Association dinner a few times they despise the man and there is no forgiveness forthcoming. He should have been CMd is there opinion.

I would like to think he does suffer daily as it's his actions or inaction that directly contributed to the loss of life and ultimately the loss of the ship
Were you on HMS Sheffield that day?
 
Er

Wow

Whilst I get the hostility to the man and have precisely zero knowledge beyond what I’ve read on this thread, my immediate thought is to question how a system can be designed such that the in/action of a single component can render it so catastrophically ineffective? A single point of failure with no apparent back up?

There must have been a whole series of casual and causal factors and for me, whilst in no way criticising The Sheffielder’s views, the key word in the above post is “contributed”. How many others “contributed” over the years in terms of poorly designed systems, procedures, equipment, policy, funding, anything you care to think of but escaped individual censure?

To hold one man responsible even at a “contributory” level is understandable but IMVHO a little unfair. For sure, he seems to have made an error of judgement and freely acknowledges that but to be held up as the totem of what to my extremely limited knowledge seems to be systemic failings is again, IMVHO, harsh.

I fully expect to be slated for this view. I was 17 at the time. I have never heard a shot fired in anger.
 

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