A Carrier at Risk.....

...Latin America at War No.14,from Helion Books, via Casemate UK

Title:  A Carrier at Risk

Author: Mariano Sciaroni

Publisher:  Helion & Company

ISBN:  978-1-911628-70-5

Book number 14 in this Latin America at War series is one I found particularly interesting. The subject is the Argentine aircraft carrier, the ARA 25 de Mayo.  A modernised carrier, originally a Royal Navy carrier, HMS Venerable. After the war she was sold to the Dutch Navy who in turn sold it on to Argentina several years later. This new softcover book looks at her operation in the opening stages of the Falklands War of 1982.

Lots of detail in here, most of which I had not seen before, both with the carrier and anti-submarine operations of the Argentine Navy at this time, along with the operation of Royal Navy nuclear attack submarines at the same time. One of the British submarines, HMS Conqueror, managed to sink the Argentine Cruiser ARA Belgrano though the 25 de Mayo managed to survive and eventually made a safe return to port, not to venture out again before the war was over. For a week though, she was at sea as part of an Argentine Navy Task Force and played cat & mouse with British nuclear attack submarines.

The author has done a very nice job of explaining not only the course of events, but also the differences between 'Passive' and 'Active' sonar, Argentine anti-submarine capabilities and tactics, along with detailing aircraft such as their S-2E Tracker and S-3 helicopters. This is enhanced with a number of memories from Argentine Navy veterans and selection of archive photos. It goes on to a section of 4-pages of excellent colour artwork, showing profiles of RN Submarines, various Argentine aircraft and even a Soviet Tu-95 Bear. Then some colour archive photos of the carrier and aircraft, another artwork showing the formation of the carrier and the vessels of her protective screen plus 7 more pages of equally excellent colour maps. The story then continues with not only more from the Argentine operations, but also with details of the deployment of RN submarines, including 5 Nuclear attack boats and one conventional diesel/electric boat (HMS Onyx). We get their Rules of Engagement and what that meant for them and even the presence of a Soviet Oscar 1 cruise-missile submarine, which was shadowing the British Task Force. Also included are references to the reports of the various RN submarine captains on their return to the UK, released under the Freedom of Information Act.

A really interesting read, and lots of detail about an aspect of the Falklands War which was largely unknown at the time.

Thanks to Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin