Thursday, September 05, 2013

Submarines, Whale Meat, and Sonar 3 Decades Later

Background

Freshly commissioned the year prior, HMS Brilliant (F90) was assigned to the Royal Navy's Falkland Task Force under Captain John Coward's command to defend a British aircraft carrier from Argentine submarine and missile attacks. Brilliant was the first RN warship to fire Sea Wolf missiles in action (12 May 1982) when she downed three A-4 Skyhawks. On 21 May Brilliant was slightly damaged in another Argentine air attack. Days later the Brilliant rescued dozens of survivors from Atlantic Conveyor, a British merchant sunk by Argentine Exocet missiles. Brilliant initially carried a pair of nuclear depth charges. - Wkipedia

*** Two of Brilliant's helicopters unsuccessfully attacked the Argentine submarine Santa Fe.

In October 1990, the first members of the Women's Royal Naval Service officially assigned to on an operational warship came aboard. Brilliant starred in a BBC documentary with her name in the early 1990s.The Royal Navy decommissioned Brilliant in 1996. [ibid]
 

Revealed Now, 30 Years Later

 
September 01, 2013 - Plymouth Herald  "Plymouth warship torpedoed whales mistaken for Falklands submarines"  - A DEVONPORT-BASED warship killed three whales after mistaking them for enemy submarines during the Falklands War it has been revealed.

***  Two were killed by torpedoes fired from the anti-submarine frigate HMS Brilliant, and the third was attacked by one of the ship’s helicopters.

The previously undisclosed incidents are taken from the diaries of ship’s crew published to commemorate the HMS Brilliant's role in the Falklands War.
One crew member wrote of a “small sonar contact” that prompted the launch of two torpedoes, each of which hit a whale.  He noted dryly: “Whale oil sighted by Sea King [helicopter] . . . I think I’ll join Greenpeace.”
 The Ministry of Defence said the sonar equipment of the time could be easily confused by whale signals, but that modern-day equipment was far more discerning.

 A spokesman for Whale and Dolphin Conservation said: “Navies have a duty of care, and we wouldn’t expect our own to deliberately choose to blow-up whales.”
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Related
  
February 07, 2008 Between the Lines of AIP Submarine Defense

March 13, 2008Solution to Navy Sonar Dilemma    

Submarines are always silent and strange.




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