Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, HMS Rodney and her sister ship, HMS Nelson, both had all three turrets of their main armament on the fore deck of the ship. As odd as these ships looked, their carried 16 inch guns, the largest in the Royal Navy.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, HMS Hood made a series of cruises throughout the British Empire and the world. She was not only a beautiful ship but the largest warship afloat at the time. Unfortunately, like the empire itself, the “Mighty Hood” was a bluff. In spite of refits, she remained a museum of 1920s naval technology.
Worse, her insufficient deck armour, while strengthened, was never brought up to standard and this made her vulnerable to plunging fire. A German shell from the Bismarck (we think) plunged through her thin deck armour and exploded in her after magazine. This resulted in an explosion so massive the Hood almost disintegrated. She broke in half and sank in just a few minutes taking all but three of her crew to their deaths.
HMS Hood seen from battle cruiser HMS Repulse circa mid 1930s.
While undergoing several brief refits, HMS Repulse was in no better shape to withstand a heavy enemy attack than the Hood. She was sunk with heavy loss of life in company with HMS Prince of Wales off Singapore by Japanese torpedo bombers.
This shocked the world because HMS Hood was the well-known warship in the world and had come to symbolize the British Empire. She had spent so much time showing the flag around the globe from the mid 1920s to the late 1930s that the Royal Navy ran out of time to remove her from service and have her rebuilt. While aware of her deficiencies, the Admiralty kept her in service and the result was disastrous.
HMS Hood entering Portsmouth harbour on a grey day circa mid-1930s
Mighty HMS Hood’s bell recovered from sea bed after 74 years
recovered ship’s bell of HMS Hood
on 10 August 2015, the bell of HMS Hood was located and salvaged with funds provided by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, who paid all the costs to both locate the wreck of the HMS Hood and to retrieve the bell of HMS Hood.
The bell is lifted from the sea-bed by the robot submarine.
(Courtesy of Paul G Allen)
The symbol of the battle-cruiser, which lies more than a mile and a half down on the bottom of the Denmark Straight, was recovered by team led by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Paul G Allen.
Three years ago the American was thwarted in his efforts to pick up the bell by the weather in the waters between Iceland and Greenland.
This summer he returned with his yacht Octopus and its state-of-the-art robot submarine from the same firm, Blue Water Recoveries, which found the Hood’s wreck back in 2001.
Now the 18in-high bell, which was cast for the previous battleship of the same name, will be restored and placed on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.”
This was clearly a special bell for a special ship and it will forever serve as a fitting memorial to the mighty Hood – and a reminder of the service and sacrifice of her men
David Mearns, director of the maritime salvage firm, Blue Water, who did the work to the find the bell.
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 DenmarkStrait 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 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.
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.
The extra inches of deck armor were critical in a sea battle.
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)