A Carrier at Risk Book Review
|Date of Review||July 2019||Title||A Carrier at Risk|
|Format||88 pages, softbound||MSRP (USD)||$29.95|
Argentina’s 20-knot carrier ARA 25 de Mayo squares off against Britain’s 30-knot nuclear submarines in A Carrier at Risk – 14th installment in Helion’s superb “Latin America@War” series.
Available in North America from Casemate, the lavishly illustrated, thoroughly enlightening effort spans eleven informative chapters across 88 pages.
And the subtitle says it all: “Argentinean Aircraft Carrier and Anti-Submarine Operations against Royal Navy’s Attack Submarines during the Falklands/Malvinas War, 1982”.
With Argentina’s 2 April 1982 invasion of the Falklands, Britain declared a 200-nautical-mile (230-mi, 370-km) Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) from the islands’ geographic center. All Argentine warships entering the area were subject to attack by any British submarine on station there. Britain later expanded rules of engagement to include maritime threats outside the TEZ.
This resulted in the sinking of ARA General Belgrano – former Pearl Harbor survivor and light cruiser USS Phoenix – 2 May 1982. And remaining Argentine Navy vessels at sea – including ARA 25 de Mayo – retreated to port for the war’s duration.
Not quite, author Mariano Sciaroni contends. Belgrano’s sinking actually prompted several days of anti-submarine missions by Argentina’s small carrier battle group.
Background to that consumes Sciaroni’s first four chapters. And six subsequent sections daily recap the 3-8 May 1982 Armada Argentina ASW operations. Concluding remarks comprise the chronicle’s “Final Curtain”.
Hide-and-seek. Nuclear vessels. Mystery submarines. Mechanical issues. Even Special Forces. And, of course, personnel and politics. It’s all here.
The picture-packed effort sports dozens of color and B&W photos. Maps and diagrams help chart actions. And Javier “Javo” Ruberto’s superb color plates – three British submarines and nine aircraft – offer plenty of model-project possibilities.
But rather than a Soviet Tu-95RT profile, I’d have preferred another Argentine subject. The possessive of “it” is its – not it’s. And HMS Splendid’s patrol area “closest … to the continent” lies northwest of the islands – not “north east”.
ARA 25 de Mayo finally entered port for the war’s duration 10 May 1983.
“The fact that the British did not manage to sink the [Argentine] aircraft carrier was simple,” Sciaroni ultimately argues, “because they could not.”
Perhaps. But Argentine forces surrendered 14 June 1982 – with clear evidence of British victory everywhere and several weeks after the events of this book. In strategically allocating assets, Britain clearly maintained a hierarchy of campaign objectives.
Moby Dick remains a construct of fiction – not a template for tactics. And branding neutered, port-bound ARA 25 de Mayo an “operational success” – or even a “fleet-in-being” – frankly beggars belief.
Still, Helion’s account expertly illumines a largely neglected facet of Argentine naval capabilities during 1982’s South Atlantic fighting. Make it a data point in studying that brief, bitter war.
My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!