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The Sinking of Belgrano

HMS Conqueror sails alongside HMS Penelope
HMS Conqueror sails alongside HMS Penelope

By the beginning of May, other than the retaking of South Georgia, there had been little action.  On 1 May, however, Stanley was attacked by both RAF and RN aircraft.  At the same time the Argentines were trying to conduct a coordinated attack from naval units, mainly two groups of ships.  One was led by their aircraft carrier and the other by a group led by their sole cruiser General Belgrano, an ex-American ship of Second World War vintage.

Meanwhile British nuclear submarines had been trying to track both groups.  Conqueror made contact with the General Belgrano and her escorts, reporting this to fleet headquarters.  She stayed with the group for over 24 hours, later receiving permission to attack the cruiser.  Conqueror manoeuvred to attack, firing three straight-running torpedoes.  Two hit and the General Belgrano sank within an hour with the loss of over 320 lives.

The immediate threat to the British force was much reduced and Argentine surface warships made no further important forays to sea during the hostilities.