Sink the Belgrano

And other naval aspects of the Falklands War

A public lecture by Capt. Warren Bairstow RANR

On Friday, 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands. The then British Prime, Margaret Thatcher, knew exactly what must be done, ‘…we must get them back.’ The Falklands were three weeks sailing time away, the seas were inhospitable and there was no British air base on land. Some advisers were not very optimistic about the chances of success. PM Thatcher asked the First Sea Lord ‘…precisely what can we do?’ The First Sea Lord answered calmly ‘I can put together a Task Force of destroyers, frigates, landing craft, support vessels. It will be led by the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and [sic] Invincible. It can be ready to leave in forty-eight hours.’ So it happened and as the then Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward said a decade after the war, ‘…the British victory would have to be judged…as a fairly close-run thing…’.

About the Presenter

Capt. Warren Bairstow RANR has significant Sea Command experience on the Australian Station and operations in HMA Ships Gladstone, Arunta, Minor War Vessel Sea Training Group and at Task Group level as Deputy Commodore Flotillas and Commander Australian Surface Task Group. Warren is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff Course with a Masters in Management (Defence Studies). His shore postings have been at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels in Officer and Sailor training establishments, on operations in Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 in Baghdad, the Naval Adviser London and Commander Mine Warfare, Clearance Diving, Hydrographic, Meteorological and Patrol Force. He has worked in strategic policy areas in leading organisational and cultural change in Navy in the Sea Change and New Generation Navy Programs. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross, is a Member in the Military Division of the Order of Australia and is a member of the MHSNSW Council.