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Mrs Thatcher's War: The Falklands, 1982» Forums » News

Subject: The sinking of HMS Sheffield rss

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Malcolm Corney
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The Guardian newspaper highlights a declassified Board of Enquiry Report on the failings that led to the sinking of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/15/revealed-ful...



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Dave Daffin
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Thanks for spotting that. Very interesting article.
 
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Michael McFall
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That article still has a lot of it wrong.

I have actually seen a FOUO report regarding this.

I will not give all the details of that, because I do not know if it is in fact declassified.

I can say this: what happened on the Sheffield changed how damage control is conducted in at least four Navies and the US Coast Guard of which I served.

Anyone that has undergone REFTRA in the Coast Guard and US Navy during the mid 80's should know exactly what I am talking about.


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Martin Swift
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I remember as a newly married couple putting the news on after a long day at work and the shock of the bland announcement that HMS Sheffield had been sunk. It really brought home the dangers and horror of the conflict...
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Robert Madison
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HMSGannet wrote:
The Guardian newspaper highlights a declassified Board of Enquiry Report on the failings that led to the sinking of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/15/revealed-ful...


Thanks for the link -- I actually check The Guardian first thing in the morning, just before I check BGG.

The report concludes, among other things: "The radar on board the ship that could have detected incoming Super Étendard fighter aircraft had been blanked out by a transmission being made to another vessel."

That is the chief explanation that I've read in every Falklands book I know.
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Andy Daglish
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I understood the burst communication was to Northwood rather than another ship, and this was very bad luck.

Even at the time, journalists were not confident of Admiral Woodward's competence. As a submariner his knowledge of aviation was not good, though the ASW function was undoubtedly excellent. He was apparently unwilling to learn, and this played a major role in preventing his Sea Harriers from interfering with the Argentine attack, which he eventually admitted. I recall in the near-contemporary game TaskForce, Exocet was a weak 'systems' missile, compared to the deadly Harpoon. And so it proved, as Sheffield obligingly continue to float as everyone went about emergency rescue.
Inter-unit & service rivalry was another serious wartime disadvantage, possibly fostered in peacetime. The RAF came across as a political party whose sole purpose was its own preservation.

The forces that went to the Falklands were composed of peacetime professionals, including a number of officers who had assumed their careers were approaching conclusion due to non-promotion. Several of these, being the right man in the right place, were told to promote themselves and appear as soon as possible with a commanded unit on the docks at Southampton. Conversely at the MoD everyone was moved down a couple of ranks, to ensure perfect performance.

As for revealing desperately guarded secrets, I wouldn't worry. After another 40 years of peacetime no one much cares. That Soviet Krivak class ships were unable to detect western submarines, who often used them for underwater photography practice, is a case in point. That Sea Harriers had to be refuelled at sea, away from their carriers, becomes obvious if you compare the not-very-good endurance to distances flown. But its a secret.

The task force went to the Falklands with cheap inexpensive soft furnishings, which produced toxic fumes when burnt, as well as being highly flammable, and also Formica [tabletops], which is about the best splintering agent there is: the chemical industry warned the RN about both. Again these are peacetime-style details.
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Robert Madison
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aforandy wrote:
The task force went to the Falklands with cheap inexpensive soft furnishings, which produced toxic fumes when burnt, as well as being highly flammable, and also Formica [tabletops], which is about the best splintering agent there is: the chemical industry warned the RN about both. Again these are peacetime-style details.


Although I have read, repeatedly, that it's not as ridiculous as it sounds, the invention of the aluminium warship does strike at first glance as one of the single worst innovations in military history.
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Paul Bradshaw
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I was still at secondary school when HMS Sheffield was hit and remember being in a design and technology lesson the day after the news broke. I recall that a student in our class cracked a sick joke in relation to a burnt object in the class resembling HMS Sheffield; the teacher and a good many of us reacted in a demonstrably angry way to his flippant comment.

I dare say that this was due to the fact that as a generation many of us were following our first 'real' war via the media. My generation, at that point, was very familiar with following the varied horrors associated with the 'Troubles' in Ireland and the UK through associated media outlets. Nevertheless, I distinctly recall viewing the developing Falklands War in a different light as if it was a more 'conventional' war. This was the first time I was seeing British (and Argentine) naval / merchant marine vessels ablaze with multiple casualties or aircraft being shot down. I was only previously aware of such outcomes in all the studies that I had done on WW1 and WW2.

In hindsight I know that this was in many aspects due to the way that the government and media projected / handled it at the time, in comparison to the way that they did with the 'troubles'. Approximately five years after the Falklands War I was doing my basic training for the British army, which consisted largely of preparing for a conventional mass mechanised mobile conflict in the heart of central Europe, pretty much in the same way it had been doing so in the late 70s and early 80s. In the same generic way that those three arms of service had that were eventually to deploy to and fight in the Falklands (organisation, tactics, equipment, over-sight etc..).

The British government and armed forces were caught off guard in so many ways with the Falklands War. This led to a number of tragic outcomes that showed inherent frailties in relation to dealing with a campaign of such a unique nature, one that in so many respects conflicted with the general training and purpose that had been drilled in to the functionality of the three arms. There was a toxic mix of generic unpreparedness on a myriad of levels, self-interest between the three arms and disagreement / clashing ego at the senior levels (and indeed within the government itself).

In many respects it is surprising that we did not end up viewing more tragic scenarios in line with what happened to the likes of the 'Shiny Sheff' and the Galahad.
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Dave Daffin
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Hirsty9Owls wrote:
I was still at secondary school when HMS Sheffield was hit and remember being in a design and technology lesson the day after the news broke. I recall that a student in our class cracked a sick joke in relation to a burnt object in the class resembling HMS Sheffield; the teacher and a good many of us reacted in a demonstrably angry way to his flippant comment.

I dare say that this was due to the fact that as a generation many of us were following our first 'real' war via the media. My generation, at that point, was very familiar with following the varied horrors associated with the 'Troubles' in Ireland and the UK through associated media outlets. Nevertheless, I distinctly recall viewing the developing Falklands War in a different light as if it was a more 'conventional' war. This was the first time I was seeing British (and Argentine) naval / merchant marine vessels ablaze with multiple casualties or aircraft being shot down. I was only previously aware of such outcomes in all the studies that I had done on WW1 and WW2.

In hindsight I know that this was in many aspects due to the way that the government and media projected / handled it at the time, in comparison to the way that they did with the 'troubles'. Approximately five years after the Falklands War I was doing my basic training for the British army, which consisted largely of preparing for a conventional mass mechanised mobile conflict in the heart of central Europe, pretty much in the same way it had been doing so in the late 70s and early 80s. In the same generic way that those three arms of service had that were eventually to deploy to and fight in the Falklands (organisation, tactics, equipment, over-sight etc..).

The British government and armed forces were caught off guard in so many ways with the Falklands War. This led to a number of tragic outcomes that showed inherent frailties in relation to dealing with a campaign of such a unique nature, one that in so many respects conflicted with the general training and purpose that had been drilled in to the functionality of the three arms. There was a toxic mix of generic unpreparedness on a myriad of levels, self-interest between the three arms and disagreement / clashing ego at the senior levels (and indeed within the government itself).

In many respects it is surprising that we did not end up viewing more tragic scenarios in line with what happened to the likes of the 'Shiny Sheff' and the Galahad.


I was a few years into an apprenticeship when the conflict started. As a young man of appropriate age for conscription, I watched the news of the war with intense interest. Watching the sinking of the British ships and the sobering news of the many troop losses, one wondered how the conflict would finally pan out, and I did wonder if I would get called up for service in case of a wider conflict with Argentina.....

The British losses could have been much worse, and there was a real possibility of failure to regain the Falklands. It makes the conflict a good subject for further study, and of course, a good subject for a game of this type.

Ben Madison has captured the atmosphere and important elements of the conflict in MTW, and while we don't see the losses of specific support ships (the carriers are the only named British naval units in the game), we feel the loss all the same.
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