When we wrote our series on the Naval War in the Falklands, we kind of blew off the actions at South Georgia. Not because they weren’t interesting, but because it was definitely not the center of the action, and because integrating it into the series would have been difficult. The point was to illustrate modern naval warfare in the littorals, and especially in an amphibious environment.
But there were some compelling stories to be told…
Via War News Updates.
Sunday, April 25: ‘It’s a submarine,’ said our pilot, Lieutenant Commander Ian Stanley. ‘You’re joking,’ I said.
I quickly worked out the ballistic calculations for the movement of the submarine. He was heading 310 degrees northwest at eight knots. Talk about making it easy for us: we could just fly along the submarine’s track – and, when we were above, release. I fused both the depth charges.
Ian then spoiled it for everyone: ‘Are you sure that it is not one of ours? It could be Conqueror (one of our nuclear-powered subs).’
I was craning my neck and head trying to see. Frustrated, I asked, ‘Has he got a flat casing and a tapering flat fin?’
‘It’s the Argie, no doubt about it,’ came the reassuring call from Stewart in the left-hand seat. ‘OK,’ said Ian, ‘are you sure that we have the RoE [Rules of Engagement]?’
‘Of course,’ I replied, reflecting the briefing of the previous night. ‘He’s fair game.’
What a moment. It is every Observer’s dream to have a real live submarine caught in the trap with two depth charges ready to go! I thought about the men we might be about to kill, but Ian started calling down the range.
As Ian called: ‘On top, now, now, now,’ I saw the fin of a submarine pass under the aircraft through the gap around the sonar housing and I released both charges.