Dockyard reprieve forecast
The Falklands crisis will force a major rethink in the government’s naval policy, involving big expenditure on surface ships and a possible reprieve for Portsmouth Dockyard.
This conclusion is reached in an assessment of the longer-term implications of the war in the South Atlantic made by the London firm of stockbrokers Grieveson Grant.
If cuts in the surface fleet are abandoned, it is clear that Devonport and Rosyth dockyards will not be able to handle all the navy’s refitting and repair work.
In fact, many believe that two Royal Dockyards cannot possibly cope with the workload projected in the wake of last year’s defence cuts.
Grieveson Grant forecasts that Portsmouth Dockyard may well be given a new lease of life and Chatham’s position may be reassessed.
The reference to Portsmouth entirely supports the campaign mounted in south Hampshire, and supported by The News, against the cuts in the surface fleet and its support services.
Orders worth more than £1bn could be placed with British Shipbuilders to replace warship losses off the Falklands and to bolster the navy’s stock of destroyers and frigates.
Again, this would be welcomed in the Solent area, where the warship builders, Vosper Thornycroft, major employers of labour, are in desperate need of orders, and many other defence industry firms are involved in the production of essential equipment.
Despite the views of the navy - and now in the city - there are no indications that the politicians at the helm in the Ministry of Defence - John Nott and Peter Blaker - are prepared to modify naval policy.
Argentine spy team wiped out
Details of how an Argentine special forces team, sent to spy on British movements, was wiped out, were disclosed today.
Ian Bruce, Glasgow Herald correspondent on the Falklands, writes in a pooled despatch:
An Argentine special forces team which parachuted into the Falklands to report on the movement of British forces towards Stanley, was wiped out by a Royal Marines patrol in a dawn raid yesterday.
The Marines, part of the Commando Brigade reconnaissance unit, launched a surprise raid at first light on Malo House, a remote building in the mountains north of the capital.
US opens its arms coffers
The US government is offering a wide range of military hardware to British forces now fighting in the Falklands, American military sources confirmed today.
One weapon, the Stinger anti-aircraft missile, has already been used to shoot down a Pucara ground attack plane.
Full details of the weapons package are not available, although it is clear the deal has elements - of American offers and a British ‘shopping list’ submitted by the Defence Ministry in London. The Pentagon has offered a number of improved Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to the Royal Artillery for use by troops garrisoning the islands, said the sources.
In other news: crisis may save naval school
The tragic cost in human lives of the Falklands crisis could save one of Portsmouth’s Royal Navy shore establishments from the axe.
HMS Phoenix, the navy’s firefighting and damage control school at Whale Island, is due to be scrapped in 1984.
Every naval officer and rating in the task force has been trained there in dealing with missile explosions and guarding against nuclear or biological attacks.
Now Portsmouth North MP Peter Griffiths has called for a rethink of the future of the Whale Island base.