Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The HMS Hood

In 2016 Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen recovered the bell from the British battlecruiser HMS Hood, which was sunk in battle 76 years ago.

The brass ship's bell was recovered from a mile and a half (2.4 km) down in the Denmark Straits by a remote operated submersible (ROV) controlled from Allen's private yacht M/Y Octopus.

Battlecruiser HMS Hood at the Panama Canal Zone in July 1924
HMS Hood was 44,600 tons, had a crew of 1,419 with a maximum speed of 32 knots. The Hood had been launched in 1918. In May 1941, she and the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. Early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells.
Hood crew in 1939

Bismarck fires with her 38 cm after main turrets.
At 06.00 on May 24th, 1941 a salvo from the Bismarck hit the Hood. The Bismarck had fired from 17,000 metres and the elevation of her guns meant that the shells that hit the ‘Hood’ had a high trajectory and a steep angle of descent.

The Hood suffered from one major flaw – she did not have enough armour. What had been considered sufficient in 1918 when Hood was built was a fatal flaw in 1941. The Hood had minimal horizontal armour and one of the shells from the Bismarck penetrated the Hood’s deck and exploded in one of her magazines. A massive explosion tore the ‘Hood’ in half. Those who saw the explosion said that the bows of the ‘Hood’ were raised out of the sea before they sank. The ship sank within two minutes and 1,416 men out of a total crew of 1,419 died.

Last photograph of Hood, seen from Prince of Wales.