According to the Portsmouth Evening News a Royal Navy Submarine has deployed to the South Atlantic. HMS Sceptre, a 5,000 ton Swiftsure Class nuclear-powered attack submarine, has been sent to the region after speculation that oil has been found.
British Submarines such as HMS Sceptre are able to fire Tommahawk land attack missiles, which have a range of up to 2,500km. Thus a submarine such as Sceptre could launch strikes on strategic targets at any location in Argentina, whilst being up to 1,000 miles away. The effect is very similar to the Vulcan Black Buck raids of 1982. Reportedly only certain Submarines are able to operate Tommahawk, but as the details of exactly which have not been made public, the Argentinians will have to assume that Sceptre can. Sceptre can also fire Sub-Harpoon anti-ship and anti-land missiles, with a range of up to 140 km. In addition she is armed with conventional Spearfish Torpedoes.
Sophisticated monitoring equipment will also enable Sceptre to monitor movements in the seas around the so-called Conservation Zone, where drilling is underway.
It is believed that Sceptre sailed south from around the coast of Southern Africa sometime in February. The Royal Navy has issued a pointed ‘no comment’ as is usual for submarine deployments, but the ‘neither-confirm-nor-deny’ policy will leave Buenos Aries in no doubt as to the fact that a submarine is lurking, hidden, within range. The Argentinian Navy will be well aware of how HMS Conqueror sank the Belgrano in 1982.
Sceptre is the oldest commissioned vessel still in active service with the Royal Navy and is due to decommission in December. Thus this South Atlantic deployment is likely to be her swansong.