The ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2) was an aircraft carrier in the Armada Republica Argentina from 1969 to 1997. The English translation of the name is the Twenty-fifth of May, which is the date of Argentina's May Revolution in 1810.
The ship previously served in the Royal Navy as HMS Venerable and the Royal Netherlands Navy as HNLMS Karel Doorman. She was deployed south during the Beagle Crisis in 1978 and in the first weeks of the Falklands War, where her aircraft were deployed against the Royal Navy task force, but spent the bulk of the war in port.
The ship was built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, England during the Second World War for the Royal Navy. As a Colossus-class aircraft carrier, she was named HMS Venerable and saw service in the British Pacific Fleet. However Venerable only served three years in the Royal Navy before being sold to the Dutch as HNLMS Karel Doorman.
After a boiler room fire, the Dutch sold the carrier to Argentina. The Argentines already operated a carrier, the ARA Independencia, also a former Royal Navy ship. After Independencia was decommissioned in 1970, the Veinticinco de Mayo was the sole remaining carrier in the Argentine fleet and could carry up to 24 aircraft.
The air group started with F9F Panthers and F9F Cougars jets and later these were replaced with A-4Q Skyhawks supported by S-2 Tracker anti-submarine warfare aircraft and Sikorsky Sea King helicopters.
During the Operation Soberania the Veinticinco de Mayo should support the invasion of the Picton, Nueva and Lennox islands.
However what would have been the first and only battle between aircraft carriers since World War II did not take place, as poor winds prevented the heavily loaded jets from being launched. After British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror sank the General Belgrano, the Veinticinco de Mayo returned to port for safety. Spartan never tracked down the carrier.
Her A-4Q Skyhawks flew the rest of the war from the naval airbase in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, and had some success against the Royal Navy, sinking HMS Ardent, although three Skyhawks were shot down by Sea Harriers.
In 1983, the Veinticinco de Mayo was modified to carry the new Dassault Super Étendard jets, but soon after problems in her engines largely confined her to port; she was deemed more or less unseaworthy.
Although the Minas Gerais was offered to the Argentine Navy as a replacement in 2000 she was rejected due to her poor condition and high restoration and maintenance costs. Argentine cooperation with Brazil has meant that the naval air wing has continued to operate from the deck of carrier NAe São Paulo in joint exercises.
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