The Caribbean country had some submarines manufactured in shipyards of the USSR. According to Argentine media, Fidel Castro offered to attack the British with one of them.
Leopoldo Galtieri with the Cuban ambassador
Despite the apparently insurmountable ideological differences, starting with the Falklands War, which began with Operation Rosario on April 2, 1982, dictatorial Argentina approached Libya, Cuba and other countries close to the Soviet Union.
Just one week after the launch of the Argentine operation for the conquest of Malvinas and South Georgia, as described by Juan Bautista “Tata” Yofre (Argentine writer and politician, Secretary of State Intelligence between 1989-1990) for Infobae, the November 9, 1982 the Castro ambassador Emilio Aragonés Navarro arrived in Buenos Aires. By the way, not in a very placid way, because according to the author Dr. Mariano Pablo Sciaroni (Magister in Strategy and Geopolitics) his plane was intercepted en route by Brazilian fighters. The next day, at 1:45 p.m., he entered General Galtieri’s personal office. That day, says Bautista Yofre, the de facto president would have released his recording system with an open tape recorder. The conversation, according to the Argentine media, took place in the following way.
Ambassador: I have come to tell you that Cuba is going to do what you determine, how far you want to go, Cuba is going to go …
Galtieri: Tell Castro that beyond the differences we have, we can talk. I thank you for this American, Latin American sentiment and solidarity, we are Latinos. To a large extent we have differences …
Ambassador: We are members of the same family but a different country.
Galtieri: We have differences but they are all debatable and conversational, but I appreciate the gesture. Argentina will not forget this gesture.
Ambassador: But this gesture can be turned into action. It is what I want you to carry clearly. This is a very careful proposition but behind it is the will to do what needs to be done … send him a submarine and sink a ship … anything …
Galtieri: Argentina will not forget it now and it will not forget it for many years …
Ambassador: I like it because that requires … even if it’s private …
What submarines could Cuba have offered to Argentina?
The Cuban Navy had operations of 1978 to 1983 six Soviet diesel patrol submarines of the Project 641 type (‘Foxtrot’ according to the NATO code).
The Foxtrot class, which entered service in the late 1950s, was comparable in performance and armament to most contemporary designs. However, it was louder than most western designs. Also, it was one of the last designs introduced before the adoption of the teardrop hull, which offered much better performance underwater.
According to the History and Marine Archeology website, the first to be received by Cuba was the B-309, built in the shipyard No. 01299 of the Leningradskoe Admiralteiskoe ob’edinenie of the old Russian imperial capital.It was armed with 6 torpedo tubes of 533 mm. forward, and 4 aft torpedo tubes of 400 mm. It could be loaded with 22 torpedoes or 32 PMR-1 mines.
The submersible had a Nakat, Jrom-K reconnaissance radar, an MG-200 Arktika-M sonar, a Tuloma sonar, an MG-10M hydrophone, and a Svet-M sonar interception system.
Its crew consisted of 77 men, of which 12 were officers. It was commissioned as No. 725 on February 7, 1979.
Other units of the same model arrived on the island from the Saint Petersburg shipyards between 1980 and 1984.
Thanks to these ships, Cuba operated for almost forty years a flotilla of oceanic submarines that gave it a certain hierarchy as a third or fourth line naval power.
However, it was another submarine model that caught the attention of the Western media. On April 14, 1982, the New York Times assured in an article that, according to sources consulted in NATO, the presence of two Soviet submarines had been detected in the area, probably of the model Project 659 or 675 (NATO code: Echo Class I and II, respectively) diverted from their usual display in the Indian Ocean and in the waters south of the Cape of Good Hope.
These were nuclear ships with a displacement of 5,800 tons. And its armament was formidable: 8 SS-N-12 surface-to-surface cruise missiles and 20 torpedoes.
Would it have served any purpose?
The South Atlantic was no stranger to Soviet submarines, but with three decades of life behind it, it is difficult to think that a Project 641 with Cuban crew could have come close to HMS Invincible , for example, given the detection technology and anti-submarine means of the British squad, and sink it. Perhaps clever mining could have, at the very least, paralyzed the Navy sent by Thatcher.
Renstchler, responsible in the National Security Council of the Office of Western European Affairs during the Reagan administration, in his work James Rentschler’s Falklands diary , assured that the Cubans mediated with the USSR to attack the British fleet: “ Galtieri met with the General Alexander Haig, the American mediator, and formally indicated to him that ‘the Cubans implied that they were speaking for the Russians, in even implying that the Soviets had offered to sink the British aircraft carrier (with Prince Andrew, who was piloting a Sea King helicopter, to aboard), leaving the British and the world with the impression that an Argentine submarine had done it.‘”
It does not sound credible, however, that the leaders of the USSR risked setting off World War III over an archipelago located 15,000 kilometers away and whose most valuable resource was sheep. But … a modern USSR submarine attacking a British aircraft carrier? Invincible ‘s 20,600 tons of metal turned into a hotel for octopuses, fish, and anemones? The story would have been very different.