Sinking The General Belgrano; Why?
After the invasion of the Falklands Island by Argentina, the British declared a Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) of 200nm (370km) around the Falklands within which any Argentine naval unit entering would be attacked. The Argentine Navy assembled its two major naval units, the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo and the ARA General Belgrano, into two groups escorted by two destroyers each and ordered them to launch an attack on the British Task Force on May 1, 1982. The light cruiser and her two escorts was forming Task Group 79.3 and moved south of the TEZ while Task Group 79.1 with the aircraft carrier was approaching from the north. Admiral Sandy Woodward, Commander-in-Chief of the British Task Force, had sent HMS Conqueror and HMS Splendid, two nuclear submarines, to shadow the two Argentine Task Groups. On May 2, Conqueror torpedoed and sank the General Belgrano which was sailing outside of the TEZ. The sinking was the subject of a huge controversy in both the UK and Argentina considering the cruiser's positions.
HMS Conqueror was allowed to fire at General Belgrano, despite being outside of the TEZ, for two reasons. First, the British had warned the Argentine government on 23 April that British military operations were no longer restricted within the limits of the TEZ. Second, Admiral Woodward had practiced the employment of Exclusion Zones in military operations six months before the Falklands War with the U.S. Navy. During these exercises, he managed to sneak past American ships and fire four Exocet missiles at the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CV-43) from only 11miles (18km) away. He was thus aware of the risks of becoming over-engrossed in one area of operations at the risk of ignoring another. While the British were expecting an attack from the West, Woodward didn't ignore his northern and southern flanks and knew that a cruiser was capable of moving within short distance of a well defended battle group. The aforementioned exercises taught him these valuable lessons which led him to consider the General Belgrano as a threat that had to be destroyed while it still could.
Posted by @the_ww2_gallery