Battle of the Falklands honors with an “obsolete” missile system

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The starboard bow Seacat launched from HMS Fearless.  Image: Mike Mcbride Collection
The starboard bow Seacat launched from HMS Fearless. Image: Mike Mcbride collection

Mike McBride joined HMS Fearless in 1983 and here he looks back on his Seacat years.

He writes: “These accomplishments were remarkable because the systems were outdated and target acquisition depended on the speed at which the Seacat controller could push the sight on the target’s fire bearing.

“A member of the Fearless ship’s crew remembers May 21, 1982 (D-Day in San Carlos Water), when HMS Fearless awaited the inevitable air attack.

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Members of HMS Fearless with the Rook Cup. Photo: Mike Mcbride

“He said:“ It wasn’t long before Argentina’s first reconnaissance plane rose above us. Soon Mirage fighters and Skyhawk bombers followed, and for the first time since World War II, British warships were to come under sustained attack.

“The ship vibrated at the sound of fire from the Bofors guns and with almost the first Seacat missile launched, an Argentinian Mirage fighter was shot down.”

Mike continues, “The Seacat systems (two front and two rear) were controlled by the Mark 5 Gun Direction System comprising four 274 directors and a 275 motorized sight. Target distance / bearing information was received. transmitted to Seacat directors from the operations room / view 275; the director was then aligned to the target bearing by releasing the brake and manually rotating the director.

“Using binoculars, the finder searched to acquire the target. During the firing, the missile entered the field of view of the sight (FOV) and was guided towards the target, via a radio link, by controls on a joystick. Flares on the rear fins of the missile made it easier to identify when it entered the sight of the sight, before target alignment and detonation. target proximity fuse.

The Royal Navy’s last steam-powered surface ship, HMS Fearless. Image: Mike Mcbride collection

“Seacat training shots were recorded. The recordings were analyzed by weapons analysts and an efficiency trophy was awarded to the best system. The Seacat Rooke Cup was awarded to HMS Fearless in 1985.

“I joined Fearless shortly after the Falklands War in 1983. My main job was to maintain the Seacat / Gun Direction systems and make sure the launchers were accurately tracking the director’s bearing and elevation position. . Precise alignment allowed the missile to come into sight of the sight 1,000 feet from the ship. I would like to say that it always happened; luckily, missiles or personnel rarely malfunctioned.

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