May 02, 2012


The USS Phoenix (CL-46) was a Brooklyn-class light cruiser built for the US Navy in 1938.  She was considered a light cruiser because her main armament consisted of 6" guns; 8" rifles were the hallmark of the heavy cruiser.  However, there weren't many ships of any fleet that would want to get within range of a Brooklyn: she carried fifteen Mark 16/47 guns in five triple turrets.  While that armament wouldn't sink a battlewagon, it'd chew the upperworks to pieces. 

The Phoenix had an adventuresome war from the get-go.  She spent nearly the entire time in the Pacific (other than a quick run to Casablanca in 1943, to deliver SecState Cordell Hull to a meeting), and was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.  She herself suffered barely any damage throughout the conflict, losing only one man to enemy action (near as I can tell, that is).  When the Surrender was announced, she was heading to the US for a refit.  She then officially joined the Atlantic Fleet just long enough to be transferred to the Reserve Fleet (Philadelphia) in 1946.  Where she sat until 1951, which is when she was sold.

To Argentina, who renamed her ARA 17 de Octubre.  Shortly after the coup that overthrew Juan Peron, the Argentinian Navy gave her the name under which she became famous:

The General Belgrano.  During the Falklands War, on May 2nd, 1982, she was involved in maneuvers against the oncoming fleet of Royal Navy ships.  Thought to be part of a pincer operation with the 25 de Mayo, an ex-RN CVL carrying A-4 Skyhawks, if the Belgrano could close with the thin-skinned RN vessels, there'd be serious butchery at sea.  Modern vessels aren't armored the way they used to be; the Belgrano was built like a bank vault in comparison to the Type 42 destroyers and the various frigates she'd be facing.  She was a serious threat.  And the Brits had a serious way of dealing with her: the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror, which had been shadowing the Belgrano for 36 hours.  Once given the go-ahead, she fired three WWII era torpedoes at the cruiser.

The second hit her forward of "A" turret, carrying away 40 feet or so of her bow.  The third missed altogether, though it carried on and dented an Argentinian frigate (no explosion) some distance away.  The first torpedo hit just behind the side armor plating, penetrated into the hull of the ship, then detonated.  The explosion vented the boiler room to the sea, which began flooding immediately.  It also blew out vertically, destroying two mess halls and a recreational area before taking out a 60 foot chunk of the main deck.

After her remaining crew had abandoned ship, the General Belgrano rolled on her ends, then sunk stern first.  770 crew were later rescued, a nigh-on miraculous feat, considering that her escorts never knew she was in trouble and sailed away.

The Sun's understated headline.
Exactly 30 years ago today, May 2nd.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:53 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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Name This Mystery Ship XVI

Sometimes the Mystery Ship I trot out for these contests are found long in advance, carefully stored away until the time comes to spring them on my unsuspecting readers.  Other times, it's serendipitous.  They fall in my lap completely by accident as I'm doing something else altogether.

FDM, CXT, you two have been moved to to "master-level," so you can't play on this one.  Everybody else, take your best shot!  The winner gets a post on a topic of their choice... but no cheating.  If you cheat, you make little duckies cry, and big duckies angry.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:47 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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