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 Naval Post-WWII to Current    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/23/2017 10:23:10 AM
The sinking of the Belgrano became a cause célèbre for anti-war campaigners in Britain. This was for a variety of reasons, including the ship being well outside the 200 mile (320 kilometre) Total Exclusion Zone that the British had declared around the Falklands, because the ship was on a westerly heading at the time it was attacked, and because a Peruvian peace proposal was still on the table at the time of the attack.

Who gave the order to sink the Belgrano and was the sinking of the Belgrano justifiable under international law?

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Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2954

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/23/2017 1:12:56 PM
Hi Jim,

The single greatest loss of lives during the Falklands War!

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Regards,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1106

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/23/2017 4:06:20 PM
If the invasion of the Falklands was justifiable then so was the sinking of the Belgrano.
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Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1935

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/23/2017 4:33:03 PM
Agree, at the time the Belgrano posed a direct threat to the British Task Force, as one arm in the pincer movement (the other was the Northern group led by the Argentinian carrier). The Exclusion zone only meant that ships inside it would be attacked by default, it did not mean that ships outside it were safe from attack.

A de facto state of war existed between the nations after the Argentinian invasion, even if war had not been formally declared.

K
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You can be a Dictator or you can design ladies undergarments. You can't do both (Bertie Wooster)

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1106

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/23/2017 4:54:48 PM
Are there any circumstances in history where the warships of belligerents were not fair game? I know that at various times war zones have been set up so merchant ships are automatically at risk of unrestricted attack by submarine, but I don't recall this ever extending to warships.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

SJ
Belfast N Ireland, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Posts: 697

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/24/2017 2:50:29 AM

Quote:
Agree, at the time the Belgrano posed a direct threat to the British Task Force, as one arm in the pincer movement (the other was the Northern group led by the Argentinian carrier). The Exclusion zone only meant that ships inside it would be attacked by default, it did not mean that ships outside it were safe from attack.

A de facto state of war existed between the nations after the Argentinian invasion, even if war had not been formally declared.

K
--kaii


Kaii raises the key issue of fighting a very 'limited to specified theatre' war. In de jury terms the belligerents were not at war. That's the first point.

Secondly, on May1, the Belgarno was on course to engage the Task Force and had orders to do so. That's when the 'War Cabinet' in Downing Street' authorised her sinking.

But with the time and distance, that order has to be relayed via Northwood to the Taskforce using SCOT, and Woodward has to task units to engage Belgrano. By the time the order was received by the Conks, the warship had done a 360 and had aborted her mission.

However, she was still at sea on an offensive patrol, the Conks had orders.

The sinking confined the Argentine navy to port. This removed the threat of sea borne re-enforcements - and a counterattack at the San Carlos beachhead. Which explains why right up to D-Day + 15, 40 Commando was tasked with the back door.

At this point in the timeline of the war, the nightmare for Woodward and Thompson was the ability of the Argentines to counterattack any beachhead - both navies had studied the WW2 battles in the Pacific, and the advantage would have been with Argentina being closer to home and having CAP.

Finally, the closer the sea war got the islands, the less use Conks could be. She is a deep water nuclear sub, and at risk in the relative shallows of the Patagonia Shelf.



anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/24/2017 5:50:00 AM

Quote:
Vice Admiral Juan Jose Lombardo, in an interview published in the NATION March 31, 2001 said this:

“I gave the order to attack on 1 May. When the British force set out to land would be the key moment of danger and their whole strategy would be to defend people who disembarked. Then they put all their elements, including submarines, to defend that position. That was the moment when we had to take the opportunity to do something. It was time to think about a transport strike, a damaged ship [?]. But, three groups of attack open to the West to wrap and search vessels were lost [?]. Six hours, after I send a new message to Allara (the head of the fleet of sea) landing there, that because of serious danger to their ships, they should retire? “

Six hours after the abortive Argenine attempt to attack, on May 1st, he gave the order to retire. That is important as a statement by the man who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine South Atlantic Theatre of Operations.
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This is all very well vis a vis how the Argentinians reacted; but did the British know about this "about face"; and if they did- would they have trusted such intelligence.????IMHO it would be unlikely.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1106

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/24/2017 10:29:06 PM
Was the about face merely the downward leg of the Belgrano patrol track?

The Burwood bank was another factor, the Belgrano could cross its shallows but the Conqueror could not. It would have to break contact, go around the shallows and find the Belgrano again. All of which takes time and leaves the Belgrano task group at large and a major threat.
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Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/25/2017 6:08:40 AM

Quote:
If the invasion of the Falklands was justifiable then so was the sinking of the Belgrano.
--Riaindevoy


As much as I feel sympathy for the Argentine soldiers and sailors who were forced by conscription to fight for the Junta, I have to agree with Riain. All enemy military assets are legitimate targets in a time of war, even if the formal declarations are superseded by the outbreak of conflict.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2954

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/25/2017 7:57:27 AM
I believe you guys are right, under the circumstances the Brits had no choice but to fire on the Belgrano!

MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

redcoat
Stockport, UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant


Posts: 220

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/29/2017 7:32:47 AM
Even the captain of the Belgrano stated that he considered the British well within their rights to sink his ship, because if he had come across a RN ship he would have made every attempt to sink it.

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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/29/2017 8:07:01 AM
Thank you redcoat-your post gives us a timely, and if I may say so; a satisfactory conclusion to this particular vexed issue.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

SJ
Belfast N Ireland, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Posts: 697

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/29/2017 9:17:08 AM

Quote:
Even the captain of the Belgrano stated that he considered the British well within their rights to sink his ship, because if he had come across a RN ship he would have made every attempt to sink it.

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--redcoat


Indeed! And to go back to my original observation about the greyness of limited war. I was party to a Wardroom discussion not long after the Falklands when the Senior Officer asked a couple of new Midshipmen if it hypothetically would have been correct to engage an Argentine warship if encountered on the high seas in say the Western Approaches.

The Snotts engaged in a lengthy debate trying desperately to impress.

Senior officer finally intervened - "depends what's in your orders and what's defined herein as a threat"

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3497

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/29/2017 11:11:23 AM
 That ship had quite a tour in the Pacific War when she was the light cruiser USS Phoenix. She was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked and her final combat action (as Phoenix) was supporting landings in Borneo in July 1945.

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Cheers

BW
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With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2954

Re: The Sinking of the Belgrano-27th April 1982
Posted on: 5/31/2017 8:29:48 PM
Just what did Margaret Thatcher say about the Belgrano??

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---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

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