Seaslug in the Falklands.
Seaslug did not see much use in the Falklands conflict (probably because of the vast amount of smoke caused by the boost motors) but there were some firings. As the Argentine Navy operated a (derated) Seadart on their Type 42 destroyers there was a possibility that they might be able to exploit some unseen weakness. Because of the potential risk of air attack to the carriers, a Seawolf-armed Type 22 frigate was kept close-in as a 'goalkeeper' (Seawolf is a point-defence system) and HMS Glamorgan provided a back-up area defence facility.
At one stage the task-force was being shadowed by civil-registered reconnaissance Boeing 707. This had to be chased off by the Sea Harriers at first light, but every morning HMS Glamorgan submitted a request to MODUK to engage this aircraft and every time it was denied -apparently because it was a civil aircraft. After HMS Glamorgan had returned from the UK the Seaslug Weapons Engineering Officer (WEO) admitted to me that each time the request was submitted he had a pair of Seaslugs on the launcher ready to go, just in case someone made a mistake and approved the request.
During the final days of the fighting around Port Stanley the Argentine Air Force were still operating Hercules C-130 transports from the airport, despite all the RAF's attmpt to knock-out the control radar. Shrike and Martel missiles had been tried but had failed, so someone decided that the Royal Navy should have a go. HMS Glamorgan was, by this time, working inshore providing Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) for the troops around Port Stanley. Bearings were taken of this radar using the ship's ECM suite, and combined with bearings taken by other ships to produce a target location which was fed into the Seaslug fire control system [POISEDON?]. A missile was fired in CASWTD mode; it scored a direct hit on the transmitter and the control cabin was also destroyed.
Seaslug firings have always been dramatic as there is a vast amount of flame, noise and white smoke. Even so, HMS Glamorgan was surprised to receive a signal from the ground forces asking if the ship had suffered some form of explosion, and was any assistance required? Glamorgan made a reply to the effect that this was all quite normal, and no help was needed at all! The commanding officer of one of the army units then pointed out that all the fighting stopped as the Seaslug passed overhead but his troops recovered first -could the performance be repeated? Shortly afterwards HMS Glamorgan fired three more Seaslugs at the runway in order to prevent aircraft from taking off -a dramatic if expensive way to deliver scrap metal to a runway!
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Last updated: 23rd August 2012.
Copyright SR Jenkins, November 1998.