T H E G O L L I E S
Much preparation was done to familiarise EW Operators with the Argentinian electronic Order of Battle before reaching the TEZ but the greater part of the knowledge gained remained unused as their Navy did not venture out beyond the 12 mile exclusion zone imposed by our Government. The usual problems of EW were compounded by the Argentinian equipment, most of which is European and some of it British. However it was EW which provided the first warning of numerous air raids and which alerted the Force as to the type of aircraft closing for attack.
One of the electronic countermeasures against
Exocet (which was ^ne of the enemy's main anti ship weapons) was the use of rocket
launched "chaff" (of which more in the next piece) which was used successfully
on at least one occasion. However the reader may be amused to hear that the accidental
firing of chaff on one occasion elicited a naturally rapid response from some members of
the ship's company, who naturally assumed that we were suddenly under attack! The firer is
still trying to live the incident down.
And now for BROADSWORD'S SECret weapon! One aspect of Electronic warfare is Chaff - an induced radar echo that looks like another ship to a distant enemy but is in fact only a cloud of shredded tinfoil. Chaff is usually fire by rocket, but .......
I thought to fire "chaff" from the funnel was impossible and when I was told that the funnel was going to be my 'off watch' Action Station I thought it was all a big joke!
However my equipment for firing the "chaff" proved to be a wooden 'U' shaped tube connected to an air hose and bottle. The idea was that I was to poke the tube through the funnel, turn on the air and then let the heat from the funnel gases take the "chaff" cloud into the air around the ship.
In fact I never actually had the chance to fire it! I'm not complaining but believe it or not being up in the funnel is actually quite frightening. The only way that I knew when to fire it was by a small light which was operated from the bridge, and I spent many hours waiting for the light to go on. I had no means of communication with other positions so I was alone with no idea of what was going on around me.
My most memorable day, and which I'll never forget, although I won't forget any of my hours in the funnel, was on Thursday the 6 May. I was off watch, during the dogs when Action Stations were sounded at Air Raid Warning Red. After grabbing my AGR and life jacket etc I ran towards the funnel.
I was half way up the ladder when a "chaff" rocket was launched from below me. My heart missed a beat and I froze to the ladder. I had no idea what it was. I started to climb further up the ladder when another rocket was fired and again I stopped, perhaps in fear I don't know, and then after a few seconds I started climbing again to the top. It was only when I got my breath back and waited for the light to go on that I realised where I was and what had happened. Alone in the dark those rockets could have been anything. I was certainly glad when somebody came up to tell me Action Stations was over.