ARA General Belgrano (C-4) (1968) - A Phoenix Reborn

Would you like to see ARA General Belgrano Implemented in the game?
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How should ARA General Belgrano be implemented?
  • Tech Tree Ship
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What BR should ARA General Belgrano (C-4) be implemented at?
  • 6.0
  • 6.3
  • 6.7
  • 7.0
  • 7.3
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Which Tech Tree should the ARA General Belgrano (C-4) be implemented in?
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  • Future Argentine Tree
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(Photo Caption: The Light Cruiser ARA General Belgrano (C-4) tied up pier side, photo undated)

This is a suggestion for the Light Cruiser ARA General Belgrano (C-4). General Belgrano was previously the Brooklyn-class Light Cruiser USS Phoenix (CL-46) that had been sold to the Argentine Navy in 1951. During the ship’s 31-year service with the Argentine Navy, the ship saw heavy use and was refitted several times with the 1968 refit adding a Seacat Missile system to the vessel. I feel that the General Belgrano would be an excellent addition to the Bluewater lineups in the game owing to its impressive characteristics as a Brooklyn-class Light Cruiser as well as the added SAM system mounted on the ship giving it a somewhat unique flavor compared to the Brooklyn-class Cruisers we have in the game currently.

Background

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Following the end of the Second World War, the US Navy, much like the rest of the US Military saw massive budget cuts that led to the cancellation and decommissioning of many different ship classes, especially Pre-War classes. Among the ships to be decommissioned were the Brooklyn-class Light Cruisers. While they had at one point been some of the best Light Cruisers in the world, they were, however, by 1945 growing increasingly obsolete, and as such the US Navy elected to decommission and dispose of them. Several ships were sold to various Latin American Countries as part of the Foreign Military Sales programs. Among these ships was the Ex-Phoenix (CL-46) which was sold along with her sister Ex-Boise (CL-47) to the Armada de la República Argentina. Upon her purchase by Argentina, the ship was renamed ARA 17 de Octubre (C-4) but was later renamed ARA General Belgrano (C-4) in 1955 after the legendary figure Manual Belgrano, who was one of Argentina’s Founding Fathers. The Belgrano would see heavy use during its Argentine Service but mostly maintained its late 1945 USN configuration. This would change in 1968 when the ship was refitted with two British Seacat Surface-to-air-missile systems. It was this configuration that the ship would maintain until its sinking in 1982 during the Falkland/Malvinas War by the British Nuclear Submarine HMS Conqueror.

History

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Early History:
(Note: This section will only cover the ships’ service life with the Armada de la República Argentina)

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, the US Navy was one if not the largest naval power in existence, with close to 1000 warships of various types having been built. However, during the Post-War years, the reality of peace would set in and the US Navy’s budget was massively reduced. Without its wartime budget, the US Navy found itself unable to maintain its large fleet size and set about decommissioning many of the older and more obsolescent warships including the vast majority of the surviving pre-war Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, and Submarines. Among the classes decommissioned during this time were the Brooklyn-class Light Cruisers. All cruisers of this class were decommissioned between 1946 and 1947. The surviving ships of the class were eventually put up for sale and mostly sold to various Latin American Countries in 1951. As part of this Ex-Brooklyn and Ex-Nashville were both sold to the Chilean Navy. Meanwhile Ex-Philadelphia and Ex-St.Louis were sold to the Brazilian Navy. The Last two ships to be sold were the former Phoenix (CL-46) and USS Boise (CL-47) which were both sold to the Argentine Navy and renamed ARA 17 de Octubre (C-4) and ARA Nueve de Julio (C-5) respectively.


(Photo caption: The official ceremony formally transferring the ex-Phenoix (CL-46) to Argentina)

On 12 April 1951, Ex-Phoenix (CL-46) was formally handed over to the Argentine Navy and was subsequently renamed ARA 17 de Octubre. Following a brief drydock period lasting from April to October 1951 the cruiser was formally commissioned into the Armada de la República Argentina. The ship would arrive in Argentina in December of the same year under the command of Captain 1st Rank Adolfo B. Piva. Initially, the ship for the most part undertook the role of a training cruiser, partaking in various gunnery drills and other exercises. In October 1952 the ship would also be given its Pabellon de Guerra (Battle flag) by the Ministry of Culture and the inhabitants of the village of Adrogué

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(Photo Caption: The Pabellon de Guerra being given to the Light Cruiser ARA 17 de Octubre)

History as ARA General Belgrano (C-4)

On 16 September 1955 after years of dissatisfaction with the policies of the Perón government, the Argentine Armed Forces and members of the opposition parties began the Revolución Libertadora (Liberating Revolution). The Revolución Libertadora was a coup that sought to overthrow the government of the then-incumbent president Juan Perón. As part of this, the Argentine Naval Forces, and the ARA 17 de Octubre (C-4) itself played key roles in suppressing Government troop movements at Puerto Belgrano. The 17 de Octubre later sailed to La Plata with its sister ship ARA Nueve de Julio as part of the ultimatum given to the Perón Government. As part of this ultimatum, Buenos Aires was threatened with naval shelling from the cruisers. However, on 19 September Perón fled the country and on 20 September the cruiser 17 de Octubre (C-4) served as the location for the signing of an agreement between the rebels and Government troops that saw the Military take power. Two days later the cruiser would be stripped of its name and renamed for the final time ARA General Belgrano (C-4) after one of the founding fathers of Argentina.

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(Photo Caption: The commanders of the Argentine Navy coming ashore in Buenos Aries during the Revolución Libertadora)

For the next decade, the service life of ARA General Belgrano would for the most part be relatively quiet. The ship partook in various exercises and underwent several refits. The only major event that occurred during this period of relative quietness was in 1956 while the ship was on maneuvers with its sister ship Nueve de Julio. During one maneuver the stern of Nueve de Julio struck Belgrano’s bow and nearly severed the entire forward part of the bow. The damage, however, was quickly repaired and the ships were once again sent out for further exercises. During the 1960s the ship was refitted with modern Dutch built, LW-01 and DA-01 General Direction Radars. However, despite this refit, the ship was still showing its age and in 1967 a decision was made to withdraw the ship from service and send it to drydock for a period of major modernization. During this modernization, Belgrano received two British Seacat Surface-to-air missile launchers and saw the installation of Italian-made RTN-10X Orion radar as well as SGR-110 navigation radar. On 4 November 1968, the first post-drydock test firing of the Secat was performed and in general, the tests were seen as a success. Following what would be the ship’s final refit General Belgrano for the most part assumed operational duties as the flagship of the Armada de la República Argentina and would spend the next 14 years performing various training cruises and partaking in various exercises that saw the ship despite its age become a very valuable asset to the Argentine Navy.

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(Photo Caption: Light Cruisers ARA Nueve de Julio (C-3) and ARA General Belgrano (C-4) at the 1965 Argentine naval review)

The Falklands War/Guerra de las Malvinas:

In 1982, with tensions running high between the Junta of General Leopoldo F. Galtieri and the people of Argentina, a decision was made to finally settle a longstanding international dispute over a small island chain off the coast of Argentina. These islands known as the Falkland Islands to the British and the Malvinas to Argentina had long been the subject of a longstanding dispute that had only come to the forefront of politics in the 1960s when the United Nations called on Argentina and the UK to finally settle the dispute. What occurred was 17 years of failed diplomatic negotiations with various proposals and counteroffers to solve the issue. The decision taken by the Junta was to simply take the Islands by force and hope that the United Kingdom would not intervene due to domestic issues. This proposal was supported by Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Admiral X. Anaya, and on 2 April 1982 Argentine forces landed on the Islands and seized them with relative ease. However, the British Government would not allow such an attack on British forces to go unanswered and on 12 April 1982 announced the creation of a 200-mile exclusion zone around the Islands defended by three Royal Navy nuclear submarines (HMS Conqueror, HMS Splendid and HMS Spartan). Furthermore, on 25 April a Royal Navy task force succeeded in retaking the island of South Georgia and captured the Argentine Balao-class submarine ARA Santa Fe (Ex- Catfish* (SS-339)) which had been transferred to Argentina in 1971. This situation was further exacerbated when it became known that a powerful Royal Navy Taskforce centered around the carriers HMS Invincible (R05) and HMS Hermes (R12) was en route to the area.


(Photo Caption: ARA General Belgrano (C-4) in January 1982 on its last training cruise)

With the threat of such a large task group approaching the Argentine Navy decided to respond by sending out three of their own task groups to meet on the oncoming Royal Navy task force. Among the ships sent out were the ARA General Belgrano (C-4) and two escorting Allen M. Sumner-class destroyers (ARA Piedrabuena (D-29) and ARA Hipólito Bouchard (D-26)) which formed Task Group 79.3. This group was detected on 1 May 1982 by the submarine HMS Conqueror and reported their position to the British Admiralty. While the ships were well outside the exclusion zone and doing only 10 knots the Royal Navy still considered Belgrano to be a serious threat as she was armed with 15 rapid-fire 6”/47 naval guns that could make short work of the lightly armed and barely armored ships of the British carrier force. The HMS Conqueror was ordered to stalk the group and report their positions. However, only hours later Admiral Juan Lombardo of the Argentine Navy gave an order that stated all Argentine naval units were to seek out the British task force around the Falklands and launch an attack the following day. At this point, Belgrano was also ordered to sail South-east with her escorts as well.

The order was eventually also intercepted by British Intelligence. As a result, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her War Cabinet, the following day, agreed to a request from Admiral Terence Lewin, Chief of the Defense Staff, to alter the rules of engagement and allow an attack on General Belgrano outside the exclusion zone. It was felt that with the threat the ship represented an attack was warranted to remove the threat. With the orders in hand, Commander Chris Wreford-Brown of HMS Conqueror at 14:57 (local time) on 2 May 1982 ordered the firing of three older 21-inch Mk 8 mod 4 torpedoes at Belgrano. While Conqueror was equipped with modern torpedoes (the Mk. 24 Tigerfish) it was felt that these were not reliable enough to use due to various teething issues. Two of the three torpedoes subsequently struck Belgrano with the first striking the aft engine rooms and the subsequent explosion destroying two decks before tearing a 20m hole in the deck of the ship. The second struck the bow near the forward turret magazines and left the forward 10-15m of the bow hanging off. The third torpedo, however, missed and struck one of the escorting Destroyers but did not explode. With the hit on the engine rooms, all power was lost and as a result, the ship adopted a heavy list to port due to the inability to operate the pumps. twenty minutes after the attack with the ship now having a 40-degree list to port, Captain Hector Bonzo abandoned efforts to save the cruiser and instead gave the order to abandon ship. The ship ultimately sank at 17:57 taking with it 323 men with the other 772 men being rescued by Argentine and Chilean warships. Until 2022 the ship also remained the largest warship sunk following the Second World War and remains to this day the largest ever sunk by a nuclear submarine.

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(Photo Caption: ARA General Belgrano (C-4) sinking on 2 May 1982, the photo was captured from a life raft by Teniente de fragata Martín Sgut)

Specifications as of the 1968 refit:

Spoiler

General Specifications:

Displacement: 9,767 long tons (9,924 t) (standard), 13,500 long tons (13,600 t) (full load)

Length 180m (wl), 185.42 m (oa)

Beam 19 m

Draft 7.0 m

Powerplant

8 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers producing 100,000 shp (74,570 kW)

Propulsion

4 × Parsons geared turbines

4 × shafts

Speed 30 knots (56 km/h; 34.8 mph)

Complement: 1,138 officers and men

Armament:

Primary Armament:

5 × 3 6"/47 Mark 16 guns

Secondary Armament:

8 × 1 5"/25 Mark 10/11/13 guns in Mark 23 or 27 mounts

AA Armament:

2 x 4 Seacat Surface-to-air Missile launchers

2 x 4 40mm L/60 Bofors

4 x 2 40mm L/60 Bofors

8 x 2 20mm Oerlikon

Armor: (Same as the Brooklyn)

At machinery: 5 in (127 mm) on 0.625-inch (16 mm) STS plate

At magazines: 2 in (51 mm) on 0.625-inch STS plate

Deck: 2 in

Barbettes: 6 in (152 mm)

Gun turret

Turret roofs: 2 in

Turret sides: 1.25 in (31.75 mm)

Turret face: 6.5 in (165 mm)

Conning tower: 5 in

Additional Photos:

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(Photo Caption: Light Cruiser ARA General Belgrano (C-4) date unknown)

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(Photo Caption: Crew of the Light Cruiser ARA 17 de Octubre on the bridge during the 1955 Revolucion Libertadora)

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(Photo Caption: High Ranking Argentine naval officers aboard the Light Cruiser ARA 17 de Octubre)

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(Photo Caption: One of the two British Seacat Missile Systems aboard the Light Cruiser ARA General Belgrano)

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(Photo Caption: The quad Seacat loaded for tests)

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(Photo Caption: The Bridge of the ARA General Belgrano (C-4) during its 1981-82 Training Cruise)


(Photo Caption: Capt. Héctor Bonzo and Maj. Ramón Barrionuevo standing on the deck of the sinking Light Cruiser ARA General Belgrano (C-4), Photo taken by Teniente de fragata Martín Sgut)

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(Photo Caption: The Light Cruiser ARA General Belgrano (C-4) sinking)

Text Sources

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ARA General Belgrano (1951) — Wiki. Lesta Games
ARA General Belgrano - Wikipedia
ARA General Belgrano (C-4) - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre
Brooklyn-class cruiser - Wikipedia
Cruiser Photo Index CL-46 USS PHOENIX - Navsource - Photographic History of the U.S. Navy
FlotadeMar (histarmar.com.ar)
Friedman, N., Baker, A. D., & Raven, A. (2020). U.S. cruisers: An illustrated design history. Naval Institute Press.
H I Sutton - Covert Shores
Moore, J. (1974). Jane’s fighting ships 1974-75. Jane’s Publishing Company.
Sea Cat - Naval Missiles of the United Kingdom/Britain - NavWeaps
USA 6"/47 (15.2 cm) Mark 16 - NavWeaps
USA 5"/25 (12.7 cm) Marks 10, 11, 13 and 17 - NavWeaps

Image Sources

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ARA General Belgrano: A Lost Ship, A Stolen Photograph | Turnstile Tours
Cruiser Photo Index CL-46 USS PHOENIX - Navsource - Photographic History of the U.S. Navy
FlotadeMar (histarmar.com.ar)
FlotadeMar (histarmar.com.ar)
H I Sutton - Covert Shores

3 Likes

Hello.
With your permission I will suggest a couple of corrections:

  • Maximum displacement: ~13,600 metric tons (13,500 long tons). Sources: Jane 1963, Histarmar, others.
  • Speed: ~56 kilometers per hour (30 knots). Source: Almanacco Navale 1966/7, others.
  • Secondary battery: These are Mark 10/11/13 (the mount is the Mark 23 or 27*). Source: Navweaps.
    Regards

*I forgot.

2 Likes

Thank you for the suggestions Coldown, I’ll incorporate them into the suggestion immediately!

1 Like

a very interesting and powerful ship, +1

1 Like