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Provisional IRA (PIRA) and ETA - Naval sabotages

Soviet cogitations: 303
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 15 Oct 2018, 10:55
Provisional IRA
The Provisional IRA was the most powerful 20th century Northern Irish Republican armed group engaging an urban guerrilla warfare against the United Kingdom. By the time of the “The Troubles”, the conflict evolved. Provisional IRA, like other Irish Republican groups that demanded the union of Northern Ireland (Ulster) to the Irish Republic, featured a left-wing nationalism but differently from other smaller groups (like the INLA) also stated that a socialist program was a secondary project compared to the main objective.
Nevertheless, the Provisional IRA (PIRA) established strong friendly international connections with other European socialist-oriented urban guerrilla groups (ETA, Palestinian groups, and received open support from Libya).
It is worth to say that while still classified as a Terrorist Organization by the United Kingdom, others do not follow such classification. The political-wing Sinn Féin is currently a legal Irish political party aiming for a peaceful political solution after the 1997 agreements.

21 April 1971
A team successfully seized on sea the Royal Navy motor boat HMS Stork (attacked to the survey ship HMS Hecate), while the crew was ashore and destroyed her with explosive. Another motor boat, the Puffin, only slightly damaged. Interestingly, this was both the solely successful attack committed by PIRA against Royal Navy vessel and the first use (repeated only on 1981-1982) of a boat by PIRA (unclear, but likely a small private boat or fishing boat).

22 October 1972
A PIRA team planted bombs on the barges Lough Neagh and Ballyginniff, sinking both. A previous attempt in February resulted in premature explosion of devices killing two PIRA members.

16 February 1972
Explosive device found on ferry Duke of Argyle (4797 GRT).

20 July 1974
Motor ferry Ulster Queen (4479 GRT) damaged by bomb blast.
Little damage and no causalities, given previous warning call.

27 August 1979
A notable propagandist success of PIRA was the sinking of the private fishing boat Shadow-V, killing the Royal Family member Lord Mountbatten (cousin of the Queen) and three of his family members. The attack carried attaching an explosive device on the boat before the departure and detonated at distance. PIRA justified the attack (with political backing of the currently legal Sinn Féin party) stressing the political value of the target and the personal record as part of the colonial British Empire (he was the last Viceroy of India).

6 February 1981
PIRA begun a small naval campaign aiming to disrupt and damage the commercial traffic.
Interestingly, this is the first (and only) urban guerrilla attempt to aim for such purpose (while other groups limited to score propaganda coups). A team of 12 PIRA men, onboard a pilot-boat under control boarded the anchored merchant Nellie M. (782 GRT). Only 7 men manned the pilot-boat, while others observed from shore. The commando team made the crew disembark on a life-boat, planted explosives and sunk the vessel. The pilot-boat towed the life-boat until it was nearby the shore. The ship was involved in coal commerce, the wreck was lifted in 1982 and restored to service on other company.

Photo of Nellie M.

23 February 1982
PIRA managed to repeat the success to harm the coal commerce. This time the same pilot-boat from Moville boarded with a team of 12 PIRA members the merchant Bedan (1250 GRT). The attack followed the same identical path of the previous one: crew disembarked on life-boat and towed to shore. The merchant successfully sunk with explosive, later raised and scrapped in November 1982.
Effectively these two last actions of PIRA can be categorized as surface engagement, being pure boarding attacks from a manned small boat with subsequent sinking of targets.

6 September 1990
The British replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria, launched but still unfinished, suffered heavy damages after the explosion of one bomb placed inside. A second bomb failed to explode; damage inflicted delayed of 2 years the beginning of her service as auxiliary ship of the Royal Navy. The attack occurred in a Belfast’s shipyard.

Largest military target damaged by PIRA action.
Soviet cogitations: 303
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 15 Oct 2018, 10:56
The Basque “Euskadi Ta Askatasuna” (ETA) share a similar history with PIRA (and the two organizations often stressed such closeness). The organization begun its activity fighting against the fascist regime led by Francisco Franco as outcome of the Spanish Civil War. While the United States backed the regime after the end of WWII, the ETA peak of glory come with the assassination of Admiral Carrero Blanco on 1973 with a complex tunnel-bombing attack. The killing is widely recognized as a turning point of the eventual democratization of Spain because Carrero Blanco was the heir-apparent of the fascist regime of Francisco Franco.
The influence of United States brought the Monarchy back to power in Spain, to avoid the democratization of Spain could turns “too leftist” (in clear fear of what occurred in the nearby Portugal with the Carnation Revolution). ETA kept carrying operations, aiming for independence of the Basque country with a socialist political objective, but differently from PIRA it gradually lost national and international backing after bombing attacks with civilian casualties giving the organization a widely assigned (and deserved) terrorist organization status.
ETA failed (differently from Provisional IRA) to build-up a peace process with progressive governments, weakened by the Spanish and French police operations, the organization declared ceasefire and disbarment and ultimately disbanded in May 2018.

2 November 1981
Basque ETA group damaged with bomb the Spanish destroyer Marqués de la Ensenada in Santander harbor (flagship of Cantabrian Fleet). No casualties. Ship repaired taking materials from sister-ship (decommissioned in 1982).

Interestingly, the destroyer was the second destroyer-class ship damaged by sabotage by a not-state socialist-oriented group (alongside the Argentinian Santísima Trinidad in 1982).

31 August 1990
A bomb destroy a small patrol boat (P-205 type) in San Sebastian harbor.

14 February 1991
A bomb destroy a small patrol boat (P-205 type) in Hondarribia.
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