The first British nuclear submarine to fire at Argentine battle cruiser General Belgrano during the Falkland Islands conflict is to be exhibited at a memorial centre, the UK-based Sunday Express reported on Sunday. The HMS Conqueror — known for having contributed to sinking of the Argentine cruiser, at the cost of 323 lives — is due to be allocated in a commemoration to the British fleet used during 1982 South Atlantic conflict.
In May, 1982 the sinking of the General Belgrano by the British Royal Navy shocked Argentina as the former US light cruiser was reportedly outside a British maritime exclusion zone, in one of the defining moments of the conflict. Almost three decades after, in 2011, controversy has returned it to the spotlight after documents revealed it had orders to enter the exclusion zone on the day it was sunk.
Now the Sunday Express has reported that the British submarine, currently moored in Plymouth, is due to become the Britain’s first post-war battleship available for public visits as the heart of a “memorial fleet” staged by the new charity National Maritime Trust, which is spearheaded by Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman.
The trust told the newspaper that the idea is “to build a Falklands War Museum” as part of a wider “historical theatrical experience,” including other British ships, he explained.
This is not the first time that controversy has pushed the Falkland Islands into the spotlight due to commemorative actions. A few days ago, Britain derided a new 50-peso Argentine banknote featuring the disputed Malvinas Islands as a “stunt”.
On June 10 last year, Argentine President Cristina Fernández inaugurated a memorial about the 1982 war at the former Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) clandestine detention centre.
The Argentine leader justified building the museum at the former ESMA concentration camp, where thousands were illegally detained and tortured during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, because “there is only one history, it cannot be split.” The memorial has been placed in an open square outside the building that reproduces the geography and landscape of the Falklands/Malvinas.
Memory “is one of the main pillars” of the Kirchnerite administration, Cristina Fernandez said last year during the inauguration. She also explained that the Malvinas museum was aimed at vindicating the country’s long-standing sovereignty claim over “the British-seized territories” through a War Memorial commemorating the 649 Argentine soldiers killed during the South Atlantic conflict Buenos Aires and London fought over the sovereignty of the resource-rich archipelago.