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ARA Santísima Trinidad (1974): Wikis


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Santísima Trinidad
Santísima Trinidad
Career (Argentina) Argentine Naval Ensign
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: In Reserve Awaiting Overhaul
General characteristics
Class and type: Type 42 destroyer
Displacement: 4,100 tons
Length: 125 m (410 feet)
Beam: 14.6 m (48 feet)
Draught: 5.2 m (17 feet)
Propulsion: COGAG - 2 x RM-1A Gas Turbines (8,200shp); 2 x TM-3B Gas Turbines (54,400shp)
2 shafts
Speed: 28 knots
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

The ARA Santisima Trinidad is a Type 42 destroyer, of the Argentine Navy or Armada de la República Argentina.


Construction and trials

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



The commissioning of the ship, whose construction began in 1973, 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 of 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 after Operation Frankton, a British commando attack against German shipping in Bordeaux during WWII. Indeed, the attack involved the use of a folding boat, frogmen and 375 lb of explosives. Santísima Trinidad hull and electronics suffered severe damage. The completion's works were suspended for another year as a result of the attack.[2][3]


The Argentine Navy upgraded the Type 42 warships by enhancing their offensive capabilities with MM-38 Exocet missiles.[4] The original design's boat decks 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 History

Falklands War

Argentine Landings

She was the leading ship of the Argentine landings on the Falklands, on 2 April 1982. Both the Navy and the Army top commanders of the operation were on board.[8] A team of 84 amphibious commandos and 8 tactical divers landed at Mullet Creek at 00:00 A.M. on 21 Gemini boats lowered from her deck.[9] The wireless message asking the surrender of the British Governor and the Marines detachement was also radioed from the destroyer.[10]

Sea Harrier incident

During the remainder of the Falklands War, along with her sister ship ARA Hercules, the unit served as the main escort to the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo.[11] At first, Hercules would operate independently along with a group of older destroyers, but the development of mechanical problems on her twin 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), intended to search for and engage its British counterpart from waters north of the Falklands.[12] Santísima Trinidad had the command and control of the group's air defence.[6] On the late hours of 1 May, the carrier launched a number of S-2 Tracker surveillance aircraft, with the mission of finding the British Task Group. One of the Trackers crew radioed that they were being chased by an unknown jet while returning to the Veinticinco de Mayo. Shortly after midnight, the 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 ARA Hercules. The British aircraft, Sea Harrier nº XZ451 piloted by Flt. Lt. Ian Mortimer, was fended off by the threat of the Sea Dart, but not before spotting the area of deployment of the Argentine Fleet.[13][6] 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, as the Argentine fleet was redeploying, when the aircraft hit her flying deck.[15] She spent the next days in drydock to repair the mechanical problems which reduced her speed during the operations of May 1.[12] Right to the end of the conflict, she was engaged in patrol duties off Patagonia. Once the cease of hostilities was declared, Santísima Trinidad escorted into Puerto Madryn the British transport Canberra, with about 3,000 Argentine prisoners on board.[16]

After the war

After the war the British weapons and supplies embargo on Argentina made the purchase of spare parts impossible[17] even in the black market. The Argentine Minister of Defense was even thinking of selling the destroyers.[18] As a consequence, the Navy was forced to place Santísima Trinidad in reserve as a parts supplier for Hércules.[19] From 2 March until 15 March 1987 she took part of Operation Grifo, the Argentine response to Operation Fire-Focus, the largest British military exercise around the Falklands since 1982.[20] Her last Sea Dart missile test launch was conducted on 27 November 1987 against an Argentine-built drone.[21][22] Santísima Trinidad´s last voyage took place in 1989. She has not sailed since.[22]


At present, the Santisima Trinidad is listed as "in reserve awaiting overhaul", however, it is expected that the Navy will formally decommission her. There are projects in the Argentine Congress calling for Santisima Trinidad to be converted into a museum ship.[19][23]


  1. ^ Dodds, Klaus:Pink Ice: Britain and the South Atlantic Empire. I.B.Tauris, 2002. Page 103. ISBN 1860647693
  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 0275955141
  3. ^ Lois, Edgardo & Piacentina, Mónica: Morir por Perón. Editorial Del Nuevo Extremo, 2007, page 282. ISBN 987142700X (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 0946378312
  5. ^ Tecnología militar, Volume 26. Grupo Editorial Mönch, 2004, page 103 (Spanish)
  6. ^ a b c (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 1847539505
  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 1847539505
  12. ^ a b 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 028399035X
  14. ^ Mayorga, ib., page 258
  15. ^ Chant, Christopher: Air War in the Falklands 1982. Osprey Publishing, 2001. Page 50. ISBN 1841762938
  16. ^
  17. ^ Anthony, Ian:The naval arms trade. Oxford University Press, 1990. Page 106. ISBN 019829137X
  18. ^ Ships Monthly. Endlebury Pub. Co., 1985. Item notes: v.20 no.10-12 1985
  19. ^ a b Wertheim, Eric: The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems. Naval Institute Press, 2007. Page 11. ISBN 159114955X
  20. ^ 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)
  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 328. (Spanish)
  22. ^ a b (Spanish)
  23. ^ Proyecto Santisima Trinidad (Spanish)


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