The German Battleship Bismarck sinks the Royal Navy, HMS Hood (May 24, 1941) - History Key

The German Battleship Bismarck sinks the Royal Navy, HMS Hood (May 24, 1941)

The Battle of Atlantic was one of the longest military campaigns of the Second World War. It started in 1939 and ended in 1945 with the surrender of Nazi Germany. During the battle it is estimated that more than 100,000 lives were lost, 3,500 merchant vessels destroyed, 175 warships sunk, 741 RAF Coastal Command Aircraft and 800 submarines lost. One of the most important battle cruisers built for the Royal Navy was sunk in this battle: HMS Hood.

More ships for the Royal Navy

HMS Hood was built in during 1917-1921. It was designed as an Admiral-class battlecruiser for the Royal Navy. HMS Hood included quality materials for both construction steel and armor plates. The steel used for building the ship was the best material of the 1920s. However, the spaces for the crew were quite cramped, causing a number of inefficiencies in combat situations. It was difficult for the crew to reach certain points of the ship in a critical situation.

 The battle cruiser HMS Hood during a dockyard refit. She served in WWII before she was sunk by the Bismarck
The battle cruiser HMS Hood during a dockyard refit. She served in WWII before she was sunk by the Bismarck © Getty Images/Hulton Archive/ Image Source: CNN.com

In the First World War, more exactly in the Battle of Jutland, there were exposed some weaknesses of the Royal Navy ships. Therefore, the Royal Navy lost three vessels during that battle in just one day which was an important key to the German side. After this event, the Royal Navy had to upgrade their ships in order have a chance against the enemy. As a result, more ships started to be constructed during the first war.

When the HMS Hood was ready to “attack”, the first war was already over, but it was used in action in WWII. Despite its high speed for that time, HMS Hood was outdated and wasn’t able to handle the latest guns of the German Navy.

The Doomed faith of HMS Hood

HMS Hood (pennant number 51), the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy
HMS Hood (pennant number 51), the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy © Allan C. Green & Adam Cuerden /Image Source: Wikipedia

The German Bismarck sailed for the Atlantic in May 18, 1941 accompanied by the Prinz Eugen. His mission was to cause as much damage as possible to the British ships. In the early hours of May 24, HMS Hood and Bismarck ships engaged in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. The two ships were 21 km apart from each other and they fired one ton shells that reached their target in about one minute.

Bismarck
Bismarck © Bundesarchiv Bild-193-04-1-26/ Image Source: Wikipedia
German battleship Bismarck, bow view
German battleship Bismarck, bow view © Image Source: Pinterest

Despite that HMS Hood was an Admiral-Class ship, the battle lasted merely twenty minutes. Both of the ships took direct hits, but the fate of the HMS Hood was doomed.

Bismarck fired a shell on the vulnerable upper deck of the HMS Hood and penetrated the ammunition room. The shot caused an incredible explosion which sliced the ship into two. One of the German soldiers described that a huge fireball was seen on the sky followed by pieces of molten metal. In only five minutes, HMS Hood had sunk. The future wreckage had a crew of 1,418, of which only 3 survived.

Some of its relics from HMS Hood still exist. However, in August 2015 the bell had been unveiled from a depth of more than 2,600 meters. It was recovered by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder.

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