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ARA Santísima Trinidad (1974)
Santísima Trinidad
Santísima Trinidad
Career (Argentina) Flag of Argentina.svg
Namesake: After a brigantine commanded by Admiral Guillermo Brown in 1815
Ordered: 18 May 1970
Builder: AFNE Rio Santiago
Laid down: 11 October 1971
Launched: 9 November 1974
Commissioned: 1 July 1981
Out of service: 1989
Homeport: Puerto Belgrano naval base
Fate: Sunk, awaiting salvage
General characteristics
Class & type: Type 42 destroyer
Displacement: 4,100 tons
Length: 125 m (410 ft)
Beam: 14.6 m (48 ft)
Draught: 5.2 m (17 ft)
Propulsion: COGAG - 2 x RM-1A Gas Turbines 8,200 shp (6,100 kW); 2 x TM-3B Gas Turbines 54,400 shp (40,600 kW)
2 shafts
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h)
Complement: 270
Armament: 1 x 4.5in DP; 1 x 2 Sea Dart
Capabilities for 4 x MM38 Exocet
2 x 20mm AA
2 x 3 12.75in torpedo tubes
Aircraft carried: 1 Westland Lynx

ARA Santísima Trinidad is a Type 42 destroyer of the Argentine Navy, the only destroyer of her class built outside Britain. She participated in the 1982 Falklands War. The warship is currently lying on her side, sunk at her moorings pierside in Puerto Belgrano.

Construction and trialsEdit

She was built at the Argentine AFNE Río Santiago shipyard and commissioned in 1980.[1]


Construction began in 1973, but commissioning was long delayed by an improvised limpet mine attack carried out by divers of the guerrilla organization Montoneros on 22 August 1975. The date was chosen as a retaliation for the massacre at Trelew three years before, when a number of leftist militants were executed inside Almirante Zar air base, operated by the navy. The raid was allegedly planned in imitation of Operation Frankton, a British commando attack against German shipping in Bordeaux during World War II. The attack involved the use of a folding boat, frogmen and a limpet mine with 375 lb (170 kg) of explosives, which was laid on the river bed below the destroyer after a failed attempt to attach the device to the hull. The ship's bottom and electronics suffered severe damage, and completion was suspended for a year as a result of the attack.[2][3]


The Argentine Navy enhanced the offensive capabilities of their Type 42s by fitting MM-38 Exocet missiles.[4] The boat decks of the original design were replaced by special decks to install the missiles around the funnel, but the launchers were apparently never mounted on Santisima Trinidad.[5][6] In November 1981 she made her maiden voyage to Britain, where the destroyer carried out her first sea trials, and her crew was trained in the operation and launching of Sea Dart missiles.[7]

Operational historyEdit

Falklands WarEdit

Argentine LandingsEdit

She was the leading ship of the Argentine landings on the Falklands, on 2 April 1982. Both the navy and the army commanders of the operation were on board.[8] A team of 84 amphibious commandos and 8 tactical divers landed at Mullet Creek at midnight in 21 Gemini boats lowered from her deck.[9] The wireless message asking the surrender of the British Governor and the Marines detachment was also radioed from the destroyer.[10]

Sea Harrier incidentEdit

During the remainder of the Falklands War, along with her sister ship Hércules, the unit served as the main escort to the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo.[11] At first Hercules operated independently along with a group of older destroyers, but the development of mechanical problems in her sister ship forced the Argentine commander to merge the two Type 42 destroyers into one escorting force. The carrier naval group was known as Grupo de Tareas 79.1 (task force 79.1), and was intended to search for and engage its British counterpart from waters north of the Falklands.[12] Santísima Trinidad was responsible for the command and control of the group's air defence.[6] Late on 1 May, the carrier launched a number of S-2 Tracker surveillance aircraft, with the aim of finding the British Task Group. One of the Tracker's crew radioed that they were being chased by an unknown jet while returning to Veinticinco de Mayo. Shortly after midnight, Santísima Trinidad was ordered to switch her Type 965 radar on and track the unidentified contact. She then locked up a Sea Harrier with her Type 909 fire-control radar, followed afterwards by her sister Hercules. The British aircraft, Sea Harrier XZ451 piloted by Flight Lieutenant Ian Mortimer and belonging to the 801 Naval Air Squadron, was fended off by the threat of the Sea Dart, but not before spotting the area of deployment of the Argentine Fleet.[6][13] After realising that the enemy was not engaged in a major amphibious operation as supposed, which made any attempt of the Argentine against the British carriers extremely dangerous, the Argentine commander, Admiral Allara, decided to withdraw his forces to shallow waters close to the coast.[14]


The destroyer lost her Sea Lynx helicopter on 4 May when the aircraft hit her flight-deck as the Argentine fleet was redeploying.[15] She spent the next few days in dry dock to repair the mechanical problems which reduced her speed during the operations of 1 May.[12] Right to the end of the conflict, she was engaged in patrol duties off Patagonia.[16] A lesser known task of the Santísima Trinidad was the transmission of interference signals on the frequencies used by the Sea Harriers air controllers during the Air Force attacks on Bluff Cove on 8 June.[17] Once the end of hostilities was declared, Santísima Trinidad escorted the British transport Canberra into Puerto Madryn with about 3,000 Argentine prisoners on board.[16]

After the warEdit

After the war the British weapons and supplies embargo on Argentina made the purchase of spare parts impossible.[18] The Argentine Minister of Defense considered selling the destroyers,[19] and as a consequence, the Navy placed Santísima Trinidad in reserve as a parts supplier for Hércules.[20] From 2 March to 15 March 1987 she took part in Operation Grifo, the Argentine response to Operation Fire-Focus, the largest British military exercise around the Falklands since 1982.[21] Her last Sea Dart missile test launch was conducted on 27 November 1987 against an Argentine-built drone.[22] Santísima Trinidad´s last voyage took place in 1989.[23]


Since 2004, Santísima Trinidad is listed as "in reserve awaiting overhaul", but it was expected that the navy would formally decommission her. There were projects in the Argentine congress calling for Santísima Trinidad to be converted into a museum ship.[20][24]

On 21 January 2013, Santísima Trinidad suffered a broken valve which resulted in the flooding of six compartments. The flooding was beyond the capacity of the pumps and the crew were evacuated. The ship took on a 50 degree list and sank at her moorings. Decisions are yet to be made on re-floating the vessel.[25][26] Santísima Trinidad was in poor condition before she sank; the ship had been cannibalized to keep her sister Hercules operational, as the British refused to sell the Argentines spare parts after the Falklands War.[27][28]

External linksEdit


  1. Dodds, Klaus:Pink Ice: Britain and the South Atlantic Empire. I.B.Tauris, 2002. Page 103. ISBN 1-86064-769-3
  2. Spencer, David: From Vietnam to El Salvador: the saga of the FMLN Sappers and other guerrilla special forces in Latin America. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, pp. 133-134. ISBN 0-275-95514-1
  3. Lois, Edgardo & Piacentina, Mónica: Morir por Perón. Editorial Del Nuevo Extremo, 2007, page 282. ISBN 987-1427-00-X (Spanish)
  4. "Differing little from their British sisters, they did however mount Exocet." Haws, Duncan: Elders & Fyffes and Geest. TCL Publications, 1997. Item notes: v.32 1997. ISBN 0-946378-31-2
  5. Tecnología militar, Volume 26. Grupo Editorial Mönch, 2004, page 103 (Spanish)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 (Spanish)
  7. New scientist, Reed Business Information, 1983. Item notes: v.98 1983
  8. Smith, Gordon: Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982 by Land, Sea and Air., 2006. Page 18. ISBN 1-84753-950-5
  9. Naval Party 8901
  10. Insight team Sunday Time (1982): War in the Falklands: the Full Story. Chapter I: Surrender (I)
  11. Smith, Gordon: Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982 by Land, Sea and Air., 2006. Page 56. ISBN 1-84753-950-5
  12. 12.0 12.1 Mayorga, Horacio A.: No Vencidos. Ed. Planeta, Buenos Aires, 1998, page 252. ISBN 950-742-976-X (Spanish)
  13. Ethell, Jeffrey & Price, Alfred: Air War South Atlantic. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1983, pp. 71 and 75. ISBN 0-283-99035-X
  14. Mayorga, ib., page 258
  15. Chant, Christopher: Air War in the Falklands 1982. Osprey Publishing, 2001. Page 50. ISBN 1-84176-293-8
  16. 16.0 16.1
  17. West, Nigel (2010). Historical Dictionary of Naval Intelligence. Scarecrow Press, p. 37. ISBN 0-8108-6760-5
  18. Anthony, Ian:The naval arms trade. Oxford University Press, 1990. Page 106. ISBN 0-19-829137-X
  19. Ships Monthly. Endlebury Pub. Co., 1985. Item notes: v.20 no.10-12 1985
  20. 20.0 20.1 Wertheim, Eric: The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems. Naval Institute Press, 2007. Page 11. ISBN 1-59114-955-X
  21. Rodríguez, Horacio & Arguindeguy, Pablo: Buques de la Armada Argentina: Sus comandos y operaciones. Vol. III Published by Presidencia de la Nación, Secretaría de Cultura. Page 338. (Spanish)
  22. Rodríguez, Horacio & Arguindeguy, Pablo: Buques de la Armada Argentina: Sus comandos y operaciones. Vol. III Published by Presidencia de la Nación, Secretaría de Cultura. Page 328. (Spanish)
  23. Un barco que se usó como fuente para repuestos Clarin, 23 January 2013 (Spanish)
  24. Proyecto Santisima Trinidad (Spanish)
  25. Un buque fuera de servicio sufrió una avería y evacuaron al personal Infobae, 21 January 2013
  26. Falklands warship sinks in Argentina. The Daily Telegraph, 23 January 2013
  27. "Argentine destroyer that led war against Britain sinks, a symbol of decay for once-proud navy," Associated Press, 23 January 2013.
  28. The captain of the ARA Santísima Trinidad said that after the war, England "refused to sell spare parts" Telam, 22 January 2013

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