General Belgrano

Mar 28, 2002
Did anyone see the doco on the General Belgrano on British Channl 4 last night? For those unfamiliar with the story, the Belgrano was an Argentine warship torpedoed by the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror on 2nd May 1982 at the height of the Falklands War in the South Pacific. 323 Argentine sailors were killed.

What I didn't know was that The General Belgrano survived the attack on Pearl Harbour as the USS Phoenix.



Paul Lee

Aug 11, 2003
Theres a thread on this taking place on the intranet newsgroups here at work. I'll post some of the juicier comments later on.




Paul Lee

Aug 11, 2003
Here are what some of my work colleagues say:

"The comment that caught my attention, which I have never heard before in
previous documentaries, was that both Argie Groups received orders from
Fleet Command for them to reverse course and hold to the west of the Islands
(Cpt Bonzo stated that there was no reason given with the order - which is
somewhat fishy) it suggests to me that the Argies at HQ had intel that the
ships were about to be hit. What was the source? USSR or somewhere a little

What a strange man this Cpt Bonzo?

"My Crew were well trained and very professional".......Mmmmmm

Why did the escorts have Sonar Off?
Why were all the WT doors/Hatches open?
Why were the ships not at action stations ?
Why did the DD/FF's not notice when their 13000 ton charge suddenly
explodes, is lost on Radar/radio and disappears beneath the waves?
Why did the ships not hear the distress calls on 2182Khz from the Liferaft

There is a lot of strange behaviour going on that has not been explained
(and probably won't be)."

"I did my training with Chris Wreford-Brown, and he really is quite a nice guy, we had
married quarters almost next door to each other at Faslane for a few years.
I don't really think he is 'the man at the centre of the story' he just did
the job he was ordered to, and did it well. A SAG within 12 hours steaming
of the islands was quite clearly a threat, especially as the carrier group
was well separated from it trying to split the task force. Whether to attack
or no at the end of the day was clearly a political choice, and Maggie for
once in her life got it right, if that attack had not taken place then even
more lives would probably have been lost, and some of them would have been
British. The fact she sank so fast and the rescue operation was so bad was
wholly down to the Argentineans. In reality the Belgrano shouldn't have
Jun 10, 2004
I clearly recall the moment I learned of the Belgrano being sunk. I instantly assumed at least a thousand men must have died. On learning more, it also puzzled me that a heavy cruiser sank after just one hit. It puzzled me that a conventional, low-tech torpedo was used for the job, and that only one was fired (I think I have that right, correct me if I am wrong). It puzzled me that the sub captain claims to have made an attack at close range using his periscope when the Type 21 German U-boat of 1945 could fire blind on hydrophone contact using an acoustic torpedo. It greatly impressed me that "only" 323 men died, given the usual death toll when a ship gets torpedoed in southern seas. They had to spend the night in a freezing gale in their inflatables.
All of the above still puzzle me. When I read the Captain's account, about creeping up on the ships, peeping through the periscope, firing at close range... I do wonder how far into his cheek he's got his tongue stuffed.
Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina
If I recall correctly, the General Belgrano's bow was blown off and it still took several hours for the ship to sink. Quite a credible showing when you consider the mighty punch that even a World War II era torpedo packed. (Ask the men on the USS Indianapolis about what "primitive" torpedoes did to them.)

I don't think the British captain was embellishing much of anything. The sonar of a surface ship has a very difficult time finding submarines because of any number of conditions, particularly stormy seas, and a nuclear powered sub that does not want to be found is very difficult to detect and even harder to deal with. Our own surface vessels train for this all the time, have much better equipment then the Argentine Navy does and they still tend to come off as the also-rans in the contest.

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