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Has the wreck of the HMS Hood been found?

Has the wreck of the HMS Hood been found?

HMS Hood (51) - March 17, 1924.jpg
Partial restoration (spots removed, but no levels adjustment) of a 1924 photo by Allan C. Green of HMS Hood (pennant number 51), the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. For other versions, see below.
 Photographer: Allan C. Green 1878 – 1954 Restoration: Adam Cuerden Please credit both – State Library of Victoria
A John Brown & Company advertisement in Brassey’s Naval Annual featuring Hood, 1923
Unknown author – Brassey’s Naval Annual 1923. Downloaded from https://archive.org/details/brasseysnavala1923brasuoft

David Mearns’ hunt for HMS Hood in 2001 was a monumental achievement that captivated the world.

The HMS Hood was one of the most iconic ships in British naval history, and its loss in the Battle of the Denmark Strait in 1941 was a tragedy that still resonates to this day.

The battleship HMS Hood in 1930 during a dockyard refit.
The battleship HMS Hood in 1930 during a dockyard refit. Photograph: Hulton Getty

A great in-depth piece: Loss of HMS Hood – NavWeaps

Mearns’ mission to locate the wreckage of the ship was a long and difficult process that required skill, persistence, and a deep understanding of the sea.

Mearns, a marine explorer and wreck hunter, had spent years searching for lost ships around the world. He had a particular fascination with the HMS Hood, which had eluded searchers for decades. In 1999, he set out to find the ship, but his initial search was unsuccessful. Undeterred, he continued his efforts, raising funds and assembling a team of experts to assist him in his quest.

Finally, in 2001, Mearns and his team located the wreck of the HMS Hood in the North Atlantic.

The discovery was a remarkable achievement, made all the more poignant by the fact that it had taken so long to achieve. Mearns’ team had used state-of-the-art technology to map the ocean floor and identify potential sites where the ship may have sunk. They had also consulted with naval experts and historians to gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances surrounding the ship’s loss.

The discovery of the HMS Hood was an emotional moment for Mearns and his team, as well as for the families of the ship’s crew. The ship had been an important symbol of British naval power. And its loss had been a devastating blow to morale during World War II. The discovery of the wreckage allowed historians and naval experts to gain a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the ship’s loss, and to pay tribute to the crew members who had lost their lives.

Mearns’ success in locating the HMS Hood was a testament to his skill and dedication as a marine explorer and wreck hunter.

His ability to navigate the complex and unpredictable nature of the ocean, and to use technology to its fullest potential, set him apart from others in his field. His achievement also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving the history of the sea, and of the sacrifices made by those who serve on ships in times of war.

In conclusion, David Mearns’ hunt for HMS Hood in 2001 was a remarkable achievement that captured the world’s attention 22 years ago.

The discovery of the ship’s wreckage was a testament to Mearns’ skill and persistence, and a poignant tribute to the crew members who lost their lives in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Lastly, the hunt for the HMS Hood serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving the history of the sea. Additionally, of the sacrifices made by those who serve on ships in times of war.

Screen grab of the ship's bell of HMS Hood plucked from the ocean floor on Aug 7, 2015.

Screen grab of the ship’s bell of HMS Hood plucked from the ocean floor on Aug 7, 2015, 14 years after Mearns. Bell of Sunken WWII Battlecruiser HMS Hood Recovered From Ocean Floor – USNI News

The bell from HMS Hood is lifted from the ocean floor by an expedition led by Microsoft’s Paul Allen.

The bell from HMS Hood is lifted from the ocean floor by an expedition led by Microsoft’s Paul Allen. Photograph: paulallen.com Bell recovered from battleship HMS Hood sunk by Bismarck in 1941 | Royal Navy | The Guardian

Locating Hood’s Bell

Dispelling the Myth of the “Under Armored Battlecruiser HMS Hood”

Battleships / World War 2

For the Royal Navy HMS Hood was classified a battlecruiser. However many modern historians consider her a fast battleship. One much improved over anything such as the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships. In addition, Revenge class battleships. Or moreover, any other battleships afloat on her launch.

Photographed in 1931-32, while fitted with an aircraft catapult aft.

USS New Jersey Curator Ryan Szimanski told us:

“Hood was armored to the same level as contemporary battleships when she was built and should be known as a fast battleship not a battlecruiser.”
Ryan on USS New Jersey

On paper her level of protection was superior to anything afloat and she was significantly faster. Vice Admiral William Sims and other USN officers in Europe discussing with Admiral Henry T. Mayo, who was the head of the Atlantic Fleet spoke of the Hood also as a “fast battleship”. He also strongly pushed for the development of a similar class for the USN, but eventually the admiralty chose the lightly armoured Lexington-class battlecruiser class instead that was later cancelled.

On construction the main deck armour was added first, During Live-firing trials with the new 15-inch Armour Piercing shell against a mock-up showed her vitals possibly could’ve been penetrated through the 7-in middle belt. Therefore the designers asked to better protect the forward magazines with an extra 5-6 inch in July 1919 with the submerged torpedo tubes removed for compensation, and the aft torpedo-control tower was to be left with slightly thinner 25 mm walls which lately were not even needed. Furthermore, the anti-torpedo protection comprised a 7.5-foot (2.3 m) high torpedo bulge. In addition, it went for most of the side between barbettes, divided into an empty outer compartment, inner compartment with a series of water-tight “crushing tubes” and backed by a 1.5 in torpedo bulkhead very strong for any battleship.

The armored belt had face-hardened Krupp cemented armor, in three strakes.
Hood in 1924

The main one was 12 inches of 305 mm thick between the outermost barbettes, going down to just 5-6 inches or 127-152 mm on both ends. The middle armor belt was 7 inches or 178 mm thick. In addition, the upper belt was 5 in or 127 mm thick amidships starting from the ‘A’ barbette, and completed aft by a shorter 4-inch (102 mm) extension.

Hood (foreground) and Repulse (background) at anchor in Southern Australia during their world tour, 1924

With the armor on the gun turrets the gun turrets and their barbettes below were protected by 11-15 in or 279 to 381 mm, also with KC armor. Furthermore, the turret roofs were just over 5 inches thick. Decks were protected by high-tensile steel plates. With the forecastle deck 2.0 inch thick, the upper deck was 2 inch over the magazines and the main deck 3 inches over the magazines and over 1 inch in smaller places but with 2-inch slopes, meeting inside the bottom of the main belt. The lower deck was 3 inches thick, covering the propeller shafts, the other magazines 2 inch down with an extrac1 inch added in other places. This several folds were design to absorb the energy of a penetrating round causing it to explode prematurely being a great benefit to Hood’s armor.

The ship’s waterline belt was 12 inches thick.

Angled 12° outwards, protecting and allowing torpedo hits to vent to the atmosphere. The sloped belt was very close to the 330 mm that would be found in any ship classed as a super dreadnought and clearly way above any usual battlecruiser protection level. Superior to the latest battlecruisers like the Repulse. HMS Hood. The outer faces of ‘A’ and ‘Y’ barbettes were considerably thicker (below decks) than any other dreadnoughts. The conning tower (9-11 in) was record-thick for any  British capital ship, this tower itself weighed as much as 600 long tons alone, moreover, easily the weight of a destroyer.

The main fire-control director became protected by an armored Hood 6-3-2 inch and a 6-inch-thick communications tube ran to the main deck. The anti-torpedo bulges of the Admiral-class battlecruisers were also the first fitted and the most advanced in the world for ASW protection. In all the Hood was a more than capable ship for 1941, armed and armored to engage any ship, she had many significant refits in the 20s and 30s bringing her up to modern standards.

Truth is we will never know why she sank (there are several theories), however she was more than capable of engaging Bismarck and as proven was far from under armored.

USS New Jersey Curator Ryan Szimanski added: 

“Hood was every bit Bismarck’s equal in firepower, speed and armor on paper. Her major deficiency was crew experience. Bismarck’s crew was well trained for ship on ship engagements in the protected baltic while Hood’s long service prewar crew had been dispersed to new construction and her current crew had combat experience but not in battleship on battleship combat, World War II era battleships were egg shells swinging hammers at each other. Their guns far outclassed their armor and whoever got the first hit had a tremendous advantage for the rest of the engagement.”
An eyewitness sketch of HMS Hood exploding. Moreover, prepared for the 2nd Board of Enquiry into her loss (1941)
Lastly, a small example of ship armor:

Percentages of battleships overall weight:

  • Hood – armor 32%, hull & machinery 51%
  • Rodney – armor 29%, hull & machinery 48%
  • KGV – armor 30%, hull & machinery 39%
  • Vanguard – armor 29%, hull & machinery 42%

Has the wreck of the HMS Hood been found?

Has the wreck of the HMS Hood been found?

To this day, the cause of the sinking of the HMS Hood during the hunt for the Bismarck is still disputed. – Warfare History Network

HMS Hood wreck found 60 years after sinking | UK news | The Guardian

Bell of Sunken WWII Battlecruiser HMS Hood Recovered From Ocean Floor – USNI News

Historian Harry Gillespie : Collected Works

Harry Gillespie is a writer who resides in the UK with his family. His work focuses on Naval & British history, with a specific look at 20th century warfare and ships. From World War 1 to The Falkland Islands Campaign.

Huge thanks to Won-hui Lee for the cover image! Ship (Finished), 워니’s Dio.. : 네이버블로그 (naver.com)

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