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HMS Glasgow - May 12th 1982

HMS GlasgowShe was built at Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Tyneside and launched on April 14, 1976 by Lady Kirstie Treacher, wife of Admiral Sir John Treacher. With a displacement of 4,820 tonnes, Glasgow is the 6th and last Batch 1 Type 42 Destroyer in the Fleet. Named after the Scottish city of Glasgow she is the eighth ship to bear the name. On 23rd September 1976, while being fitted out, a fire on board killed eight men and injured a further 6.

Glasgow was among five Type 42 destroyers sent as part of the Task Force sent to retake the Falkland Islands after invasion by Argentina in 1982. Armed with Sea Dart anti-aircraft missile system, Glasgow along with its sister ships, Sheffield and Coventry were among the first ships to arrive in a 200 nautical mile (370 km) exclusion zone imposed around the islands.

Glasgow about to take a direct hit .Glasgow saw early action in the war when on May 2 her Lynx helicopter badly damaged the Argentine naval vessel Alferez Sobral. On May 3, Glasgow detected an Exocet missile fired at the Task Force and warned the fleet. However Sheffield failed to receive the warning and was hit, later sinking. Down to two Type 42s (Exeter and Cardiff would not arrive until the end of May), Glasgow and Coventry were left to long range defence of the fleet.

However on May 12, Glasgow alongside HMS Brilliant were on a "42-22" combo whereby Glasgow's Sea Dart long range missiles would complement Brilliant's short range Sea Wolf missiles on anti-aircraft attacks. The ships attracted the attention of the Argentine Airforce when a wave of Skyhawk jets attacked. Although Glasgow's Sea Dart system failed, Brilliant's Sea Wolf shot down three jets. When a second wave of Skyhawks attacked, Sea Wolf also failed and the jets released three bombs, one of which damaged Glasgow, although it did not explode. Listen to a clip taken when Rob Guyatt was closed up at Action Stations. (6.7 Mb .mp3)

Here, Rob Guyatt describes it in his own words.

HMS Glasgow showing bomb exit on the waterlineThis sample piece is on the day (May 12th) that we were attacked by four Sky Hawks. One managed to get through and drop his 1000lb bomb. It hit us on the starboard side, exiting port side. I am totally convinced that if it had gone off, I would not be hosting this web site now and possibly another Type 42 lost!

During the playing of the tape you will hear a "thankyou" to the skipper when he informs us that we are pulling away from the "gun line" to rejoin the rest of the Fleet. There was definately a little twitching of the arse during this evenful time? I went down to the Falklands as an aetheist, I returned as a Christian, due to all the praying I done. "Andrex" also did it's fair share to bring a little comfort?

To solve the welding problem of repairs, as it was at the waterline, the solution was to heel the ship over ten degrees by shifting fuel around the tanks and to steer the ship around in circles. Despite continualling leaks, damaged equipment, and loss of control to the main engine, "Glasgow" returned to her air defence station within three days of being hit and stayed there until a relief ship arrived. On our trip home the engines and propellors had to be controlled manually and constant repairs were carried out.

The Supply Department done its bit, besides keeping the departments stocked up and the lads fed and paid, which reminds me.....The South Atlantic extra pay allowance was £4 per day but the powers to be decided that during this conflict they would REDUCE it to £1 a day...bloody marvellous..go to war and you get less!!!!! Getting back to my drift, the Supply Officer certainly done his bit and as youBomb Damage, HMS Glasgow. will hear, he was much appreciated by your one and only Nobby G.......Here it is He was't a bad chap actually, his only downfall with me was adding cherries and cocktail sticks - for the Wardroom - to an emergency stores top up signal after a day of bombing. This added request was promptly removed by the skipper ,when I, the rat, pointed it out to him when he was about to sign the signal for release. Gee Gee, will you ever forgive me?

My Action Station was down in the Naval Stores, a few decks down, securely battened down with little chance of escape. There is nothing worse than being at an Action Station where you can do absolutely nothing to participate in the action, only to sit there with your head up your arse waiting the inevitable! I am sure, that if the bomb that hit us had exploded, I would have known nothing about it, likewise a few of our good 'ol engineers! I was once a Gunner having changed branches to "Jack Dusty" in 1971, now that's what I call "sods law". On hindsight though, I doubt if my expertise as a six inch Gun loader, Bofor loader, Bofor Aimer, 20mm Oerlikon operator, or, as on my SDB (HMS Ickford) a "Rambo" Bren Gun man, would have been of any help in this age of missiles?

A few of the targeted "Argie" bombs did not explode in the earlier part of the campaign, due to, we are told, incorrect priming. When the BBC heard of this, they broadcast it to the world, so naturally, on hearing this the "Argies" corrected it. The broadcasting of this fact by this BIG MOUTHED Broadcasting Company, in my opinion, was the cause of deaths to many sailors and soldiers, later on in the conflict. Luckily we had no BBC reporters aboard us, they obviously chose to be based within the moderately safe comfort of the Carriers, where they could send home reports for the BBC to broadcast and the "Argies" to assess.

I notice today that the BBC has not changed it's tactics, still reporting things that could be helpful to terrorists! Quite recently informing us and them (terrorists) that they had got their bomb mixture wrong. Is there no stopping this unnecessary reporting? " bugger me mate, that's what we forgot, the two tablespoons of sugar"!

HMS BrilliantMany thanks to the lads on HMS Brilliant, who was riding "shotgun", for downing the other attacking Sky Hawks on that day we were hit. If it wasn't for their "Sea Wolf" missile system we may have met the same fate as the other two Type 42's "Sheffield" and "Coventry". Well done "Brilliant"...BRILLIANT!

HMS Glasgow was the first ship to arrive in the "total exclusion zone" (May 1st) and the first ship to arrive back in the UK, (June 19th). Although damaged we did remain with the Fleet and released for the long slow haul home when our relief arrived on station. I believe it was HMS Exeter, who was promptly put on the "gun line". Another historical first for "Glasgow" was that she was the first of the Task Force ships to return to the Falklands on patrol, just a few months later, on 4th September 1982. Well done those "Pompey dockies" for a quick turn around !

A lot of fuss was made of the departure of the "Carriers" from Pompey, little did the public know that a few ships and submarines had sailed from Gibraltar sometime earlier, for Ascension Island, where we were to wait until the rest of the Task Force caught up with us. The ships happen to be in Gib for a "run ashore" after exercise "Spring Train".

Once the Task Force had stored up and generally organised itself we headed South. On our way South, Admiral Woodward flew round the fleet giving his "pep" talk and asking if there were any questions. On Glasgow the question was put to him as to what we might be up against. To this he replied that the army was mostly conscripts and probably demoralised. The Navy probably wouldnt put to sea and as for their Air Force, well ,they have a couple of missiles but mostly "iron bombs" not much threat there! NO NOT BLOODY MUCH, it was the "iron bombs" that nearly wiped us out. Why he should place a ship with one 4.5 inch gun a few miles off shore to do a bombardment, beats me. So after leading us into war, sacrificing a few ships, together with a few more "cock ups" he returns to the UK and gets a Knighthood. He obviously played a lot of sport as well, or he would'nt have even been an Admiral!

I recently watched "Sinking the Belgrano" on The National Geographic TV channel. Woodward was still at it. During his interview he stated that the "Escorts were expendable" and "if you don't like it you shouldn't have joined". The first part possibly a true comment but the second, blabbed out, with a smile on his face I found quite sickening. Tell that Admiral, to the families of the sailors who died for you! As Del Trotter would put it Admiral "your a total plonker".

Our Captain, Captain Hoddinott, can be said, was bloody great. Switched on, kept his cool and constantly kept us up to speed as to what was happening at all times. If he thought there was a possible attack coming in , then it was "Action Stations". No hanging about to get a positive report. On HMS Sheffields fateful day, we picked up the incoming raid. This was reported to Command who told us to "disregard, spurious". We remained at Action Stations and again our radar picked up possible targets, again we were told to "disregard". A few seconds later there was the sound of our "chaff" being launched, as we healed over to starboard, arse end down, to get ourselfs down wind. Shortly after this, poor old "Sheffield" was hit by an Exocet missile.

I am informed that on the fatefull day, two Etendard's were involved in the attack. One armed with Exocet. The one with Exocet remained at sea level at all times whilst the other also coming in at sea level would "pop" up to get a fix on the target ,then drop down again, to pass target details to the armed aircraft. Thus giving a false image to the fleets radar. Thankfully it did'nt fool our eagle eyed lads in "Glasgows" Ops Room.

The radar-guided Exocet, a large missile that carried a 950-pound warhead, could be fired at nearly 25 NM. It would streak along just above the wave tops at almost Mach 1, and once it acquired its target, it was very difficult to shoot down. If it struck its target, the result was likely to be devastating. It was an ideal standoff weapon, and its range allowed the strike aircraft to avoid closing with the enemy CAP (Combat Air Patrol). The best defence against the Exocet was to create a strong radar return (by shooting large amounts of chaff [small metal strips] over the sea and away from the ships being attacked) on which the Exocet’s guidance system would detect and engage, missing the real target.

I think it was on the day that Sheffield was hit that we realised that this was'nt a "turkey shoot" this was the real thing. Happy smiling faces vanished and sadness appeared........but moral could be felt throughout the ship, knowing we had a good skipper at the helm!

© Rob Guyatt. HMS Devonshire and HMS Leopard Portal. Reproduced with thanks.