3 of 1,418 Men aboard HMS Hood Survived

Battle of the Denmark Strait

 

BATTLE OF THE DENMARK STRAIGHT (HU 386) German Battleship BISMARK engaging the British Battlecruiser HMS HOOD as seen from the German Heavy Cruiser PRINZ EUGEN Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222115
BATTLE OF THE DENMARK STRAIGHT (HU 386) German Battleship BISMARK engaging the British Battlecruiser HMS HOOD as seen from the German Heavy Cruiser PRINZ EUGEN Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222115

 

BATTLE OF THE DENMARK STRAIGHT (HU 385) A column of smoke rising above the sinking British Battlecruiser HMS HOOD. HMS PRINCE OF WALES in the background. Picture taken from the German Heavy Cruiser PRINZ EUGEN Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222114
BATTLE OF THE DENMARK STRAIGHT (HU 385) A column of smoke rising above the sinking British Battlecruiser HMS HOOD. HMS PRINCE OF WALES in the background. Picture taken from the German Heavy Cruiser PRINZ EUGEN Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222114

 

Battlescruiser HMS Hood 1932

HMS Hood circa 1932 (Official US Navy photo in the public domain)

The HMS Hood sunk by the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the Battle of the Denmark Strait 24 May 1941. Of the 1,418 crew serving aboard the Hood when she sank, only 3 men survived. They were rescued  approximately 2.5 hours after the sinking by the destroyer HMS Electra.

 

HMS Hood (3)

HMS Hood showing the flag off Honolulu June 1924 (Official US Navy photo in the public domain).

 

HMS Hood was a battlecruiser and not a battleship. The ship was built to an outdated design pre-World War One design. The theory was a battlecruiser would be heavily armed but not heavily armored. Therefore, she would be faster than contemporary battleships and her job would be to scout ahead of the main battle-fleet.

 

HMS_Iron_Duke

British battleship HMS Iron Duke circa 1915. The booms on the side of the ship were used to hang anti-torpedo netting when the ship was at anchor. (official Royal Navy photograph)

HMS Iron Duke was commissioned in March 1914–that is formally accepted and put into service by the navy. She served as Sir John Jellicoe’s flagship at the Battle of Jutland. Her maximum speed was 24.5 mph/ 39.4 km/h.

Compare this to HMS Hood whose maximum speed was 36 mph/57 km/h. Hence, you can see the difference in speed. Below is a table showing the thickness of the armor of HMS Iron Duke and HMS Hood which accounts for the higher speed of the Hood and also her vulnerability because of her very think deck armor. (The dates reflect when each ship was commissioned)

Hood (May 1920)                                             Iron Duke (March 1914)
Belt: 12–6 in (305–152 mm)                         Belt: 12 in (305 mm)
Deck: 0.75–3 in (19–76 mm)                        Deck: 2.5 in (64 mm)

The Iron Duke (named for the the 1st Duke of Wellington) was withdrawn from active service in the early 1930s. But the Hood (named for Admiral Samuel Hood) was not– even though the Royal Navy was well aware of her light armor. Compare Hood’s armor to a World War Two battleship designed and built for the Royal Navy, HMS Prince of Wales, who was with the Hood at the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Pay special attention to the deck armor of the Prince of Wales:  5 to 6 inches vs Hood: 0.75–3 in.

 

Prince_of_Wales-1

British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales commissioned January 1941

Main Belt: 14.7 inches (370 mm)
Deck: 5–6 inches (127–152 mm)

The extra inches of deck armor were critical in a sea battle.

 

HMS HOOD seen between two 16 inch guns (belonging to HMS RODNEY) as she returned from the Mediterranean.

HMS Hood at anchor in Scapa Flow. The photo is framed by two sixteen guns of HMS Rodney. These 16 inchers were the largest naval guns of the Royal Navy in WW Two. Only battleships in the Royal Navy to have sixteen inch guns were HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson, both built in the 1920s. (Photo courtesy of the British Royal Navy)

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/