HMS Conqueror (S48)

HMS Conqueror (nickname "Conks") was a nuclear
Nuclear marine propulsion
Nuclear marine propulsion is propulsion of a ship by a nuclear reactor. Naval nuclear propulsion is propulsion that specifically refers to naval warships...

-powered fleet submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 that served in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 from 1971 to 1990. She was built by Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird, one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield at the turn of the twentieth century.- Founding of the business :The Company...

 in Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

 (the only British nuclear fleet submarine not to be built at Barrow-in-Furness
Barrow-in-Furness is an industrial town and seaport which forms about half the territory of the wider Borough of Barrow-in-Furness in the county of Cumbria, England. It lies north of Liverpool, northwest of Manchester and southwest from the county town of Carlisle...

). She the only nuclear-powered submarine known to have to have engaged an enemy ship with torpedoes, sinking the cruiser ARA General Belgrano
ARA General Belgrano
The ARA General Belgrano was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until 1982. Formerly the , she saw action in the Pacific theater of World War II before being sold to Argentina. After almost 31 years of service, she was sunk during the Falklands War by the Royal Navy submarine ...

 with two Mark 8 torpedoes during the 1982 Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

.The only other submarine to sink a warship since World War II is the Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i Navy's PNS Hangor
PNS Hangor
PNS Hangor was a Daphné class submarine that served in the Pakistan Navy from 1970 to 2006. She was built by France, and was a type of diesel-electric submarine class. She earned renown, when during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, she sank the Indian Navy's ASW frigate INS Khukri with two Homing...


Conqueror was the third submarine of her class, following on from the earlier and .
The submarines were designed to face the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 threat at sea by attacking other ships and submarines, and spying on Soviet nuclear-armed submarine movements.

Falklands War

Conqueror, commanded by Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 Chris Wreford-Brown
Chris Wreford-Brown
Christopher Louis Wreford-Brown DSO RN is a retired Royal Navy officer. He was captain of HM Submarine Conqueror during the Falklands War, during which Conqueror sunk the Argentine Cruiser ARA General Belgrano. For the Falklands patrol he was awarded the DSO. He is the only officer to have...

, was most famously deployed during the Falklands War, setting sail from Faslane Naval Base on the Gare Loch
Gare Loch
The Gare Loch or Gareloch is a sea loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.-Geography:A sea loch aligned north-south, Gare Loch is 10 kilometres long with an average width of 1.5 kilometres. At its southern end it opens into the Firth of Clyde through the Rhu narrows...

 in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 on 3 April 1982, one day after the Argentine
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 invasion. Conqueror arrived in the exclusion zone around the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

 twenty-one days later and was ordered to scan the area for Argentine shipping, particularly the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 ARA Veinticinco de Mayo
ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2)
The ARA Veinticinco de Mayo was an aircraft carrier in the Argentine Navy from 1969 to 1997. The English translation of the name is the Twenty-fifth of May, which is the date of Argentina's May Revolution in 1810....

 ("25th of May"). On 30 April, she spotted the Argentine light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

 ARA General Belgrano
ARA General Belgrano
The ARA General Belgrano was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until 1982. Formerly the , she saw action in the Pacific theater of World War II before being sold to Argentina. After almost 31 years of service, she was sunk during the Falklands War by the Royal Navy submarine ...

 sailing southwest of the Falklands, just outside the exclusion zone imposed by the British on all shipping. With ARA Veinticinco de Mayo approaching the islands from the north, the commander of the British Taskforce, Admiral 'Sandy' Woodward, feared a pincer attack, with Belgrano attacking from the south and Veinticinco de Mayo from the north and requested permission from the British government to sink the Belgrano. After some debate, permission to engage Belgrano was sent to the submarine from the Royal Navy's fleet command centre in Northwood
Northwood Headquarters
Northwood Headquarters is a military headquarters facility of the British Armed Forces in Eastbury, Hertfordshire, England, adjacent to the London suburb of Northwood...

 in the United Kingdom. In the intervening time Belgrano had retired from its attack position and turned west since the Veinticinco de Mayo was not yet ready to engage the British fleet. This later caused some controversy; see Controversy over the sinking, although Belgranos captain and the Argentine government later acknowledged that the attack was a legitimate act of war.

On 2 May Conqueror became the first nuclear-powered submarine to fire in anger
Fire in anger
"Fire in anger" is a phrase used in military contexts to describe the use of a projectile weapon to deliberately cause damage or harm to an opponent, as opposed to training exercises or warning shots. For example, Napier of Magdala Battery "never fired a shot in anger"; the battery never engaged in...

 launching three Mark 8 torpedoes at Belgrano,The Conqueror was also equipped with Tigerfish
Mark 24 Tigerfish
The Mk 24 Tigerfish torpedo was a heavyweight acoustic homing torpedo used by the Royal Navy for several years. The early Mod0 and Mod1 variants were unreliable and unsuccessful, and were issued to the RN even though they failed Fleet Weapon Acceptance...

 torpedoes, but her captain chose to use the more reliable, fifty-five year-old Mark 8 design
two of which struck the ship and exploded. Twenty minutes later, the ship was sinking rapidly and was abandoned by her crew. General Belgrano was unable to issue a Mayday signal because of electrical failure; this and poor visibility meant the two escorting destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s were unaware of the sinking until some hours later. A total of 323 men were killed. Adding to the confusion, the crew of the ARA Bouchard
USS Borie (DD-704)
The USS Borie , an , was the 2nd ship of the United States Navy to be named for Adolph E. Borie, Secretary of the Navy under President Ulysses S. Grant.-Construction:...

 felt an impact that was possibly the third torpedo striking at the end of its run (an examination of the ship later showed an impact mark consistent with a torpedo). The two ships continued on their course westward and began dropping depth charges. By the time the ships realized that something had happened to the Belgrano, it was already dark and the weather had worsened, scattering the life rafts.
Conquerors war did not end there. The crew of the submarine had to face Argentine Air Force
Argentine Air Force
The Argentine Air Force is the national aviation branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic. , it had 14,606 military and 6,854 civilian staff.-History:...

 attempts to locate her in the days after the attack, which had shocked the Argentine people and ruling dictatorship
National Reorganization Process
The National Reorganization Process was the name used by its leaders for the military government that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. In Argentina it is often known simply as la última junta militar or la última dictadura , because several of them existed throughout its history.The Argentine...

. Conqueror did not fire again in anger throughout the war, but provided valuable help to the task force by using sophisticated monitoring equipment to track Argentine aircraft departing the mainland.

After the war, Conqueror returned to Faslane, flying a Jolly Roger
Jolly Roger
The Jolly Roger is any of various flags flown to identify a ship's crew as pirates. The flag most commonly identified as the Jolly Roger today is the skull and crossbones, a flag consisting of a human skull above two long bones set in an x-mark arrangement on a black field. This design was used by...

 adorned with torpedoes, a customary act of Royal Navy submarines after a kill. When asked about the incident later, Commander Wreford-Brown responded, "The Royal Navy spent thirteen years preparing me for such an occasion. It would have been regarded as extremely dreary if I had fouled it up".

Conqueror did not take part in any other conflicts, and was decommissioned in 1990. The periscopes, captain's cabin and main control panel from the submarines manoeuvring room can be viewed in the Royal Navy's museum in Gosport
Gosport is a town, district and borough situated on the south coast of England, within the county of Hampshire. It has approximately 80,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000-10,000 during the summer months...


External links

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