HMS Ajax & River Plate Veterans Association


FAQ 28

What were the British problems during this time?


The possibility that Graf Spee was leading the British force into a trap could not be discounted. There were three possible escape routes from Montevideo for her. However, because of shallow water the 15 mile gap on the northern side of the estuary, which allowed an entirely safe depth of water, was anticipated to be the most likely route she would choose to take.


Initially Harwood had only Achilles and the damaged Ajax with only two operational turrets.  Neither ship was equipped with radar to detect a break out by Graf Spee in the early morning mists. Once Cumberland had joined the force and one of Ajax’s damaged turrets had been made operational, Harwood’s force was restored to its original strength.