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ARA Alferez Sobral (A-9)

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Title: ARA Alferez Sobral (A-9)  
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Subject: Falklands War, Argentine naval forces in the Falklands War, National Geographic Endeavour, Sea Skua, USS Salish (ATA-187), ARA Gómez Roca (P-46), José María Sobral
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ARA Alferez Sobral (A-9)

Ushuaia, 2008
Career (United States)
Name: USS Salish (ATA-187)
Laid down: 29 August 1944
Launched: 29 September 1944
Commissioned: 7 December 1944
Renamed: Salish, 16 July 1948
Decommissioned: 10 February 1972
Fate: transferred to Argentine Navy, 10 February 1972
Struck: 1 February 1975
Career (Argentina)
Name: ARA Alférez Sobral (A-9)
Acquired: 10 February 1972
Status: in active service, as of 2014
General characteristics
Displacement: 835 tons (848 t) (full)
Length: 143 feet (43.6 m)
Beam:   33 ft 10 in (10.3 m)
Draft:   13 ft 2 in (4.0 m)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric engines,
1,500 shp (1,100 kW) single screw
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)
Complement: 45–49
Armament: as Salish
• 1 × single 3 inch/50 guns,
• 2 × twin 40 mm AA guns
as Alférez Sobral
• 1 × 40 mm /60 Bofors gun,
• 2 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

ARA Alférez Sobral (A-9) is an aviso in Argentine Navy service since 1972. She had previously served in the US Navy as the fleet tug USS Salish (ATA-187).

US Navy service

Main article: USS Salish (ATA-187)

Built by Levingston Shipbuilding Co., at Orange, Texas as a Sotoyomo-class rescue tug served as USS Salish (ATA-187) from 1944 to 1972.

Argentine Navy service


The ship was named after Antarctic explorer Alférez José María Sobral (1880–1961). She was acquired 10 February 1972 departing with her sister-ship ARA Comodoro Somellera from Mayport, Florida on 6 March 1972 and arriving Puerto Belgrano on 18 April.

Falklands War

In the early hours of the morning on 3 May 1982, the ship was hit by three Sea Skua anti-ship missiles fired by British Westland Lynx HAS.Mk.2/3 helicopters.

At the time the ship was approximately 60 nautical miles (110 km)[1][2] north of the Falkland Islands searching for the crew of a downed Canberra (B-110) bomber that had been shot down two days earlier by an AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM (air-to-air missile) fired from a British BAe Sea Harrier FRS.Mk.1 (XZ451). The Sobral was initially spotted by a Westland Sea King helicopter. When the helicopter approached to investigate, it was shot at by the vessel's 20 mm fore cannon. The helicopter immediately retreated and called for assistance.

In response HMS Coventry and HMS Glasgow launched their Westland Lynx HAS.Mk.2/3 helicopters. Coventry's Lynx (XZ242) attacked first, firing two Sea Skua (air-to-surface) anti-ship missiles. One of the missiles narrowly missed the bridge, the second hit Sobral's fiberglass motorboat, injuring the crew of a 20 mm cannon and knocking out the radio aerials.

Twenty minutes later Glasgow's Lynx (XZ247) launched two more missiles. One or perhaps both of these missiles struck the bridge, causing extensive damage. In total the attack killed eight of the crew — including the ship's captain, Lieutenant Commander Sergio Gómez Roca — and injuring eight. The Sobral lost all her electrical power, radio, radar and compass.[3]

The only navigational guide available to the crew was the direction of the waves at the time of the attack. She was found and helped by the Sikorsky S-61N LV-OCL (a civilian aircraft requisitioned by the Argentine Air Force as part of Escuadron Fenix[3] and piloted by 1st Lt Lucero) which evacuated the injured. Sobral was then assisted by the civilian trawler María Alejandra[4] and finally reached Puerto Deseado two days later on 5 May. The attack had occurred at the approximated position 49°50′00″S 58°37′00″W / 49.83333°S 58.61667°W / -49.83333; -58.61667.

Post-war

The ship survived the conflict and remains in naval service. The ship's badly damaged bridge is currently on display at the Naval Museum in the city of Tigre, Argentina.

The name of Argentina's final Espora class corvette was renamed ARA Gómez Roca (P-46) to honour her captain. Goméz Roca was the first commander of the Argentine Navy to be killed on the bridge of his ship since the war with Brazil in the 19th century.[5] The aviso ARA Teniente Olivieri (A-2) bears the name of the Guardamarina (Midshipman) Olivieri who was also killed in the action.[6]

Since 1993 she had been homebased at Ushuaia until February 2010 when she moved to Mar del Plata switching places with ARA Gurruchaga (A-3).[7]

In 2001 she assisted the expedition ship Caledonian Star which had been struck by a rogue wave during transit of the Drake Passage.[8]

References

External links

  • Histarmar Site pictorial
  • naval-history.net: Details of the Falklands War incident
  • nafts.org: Pictures of the damage done by the Sea Skua missiles
  • (Spanish)
  • (Spanish)
  • (Spanish)
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