HMS Hood (1891)

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HMS Hood
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hood
Namesake: Admiral Sir Arthur William Acland Hood, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1885 to 1889
Ordered: 1889
Builder: Chatham Dockyard, England
Cost: £926,396[1]
Laid down: 17 August 1889
Launched: 30 July 1891
Completed: 1 June 1893
Commissioned: 1 June 1893
Decommissioned: March 1911
Nickname: The Royal Sovereign-class battleships were nicknamed the "Rolling Ressies"[2]; Hood was nicknamed "'Ood 'Ave Thought It?'
Fate: sunk as a blockship in Portland harbour, 4 November 1914[3]
Notes: Wreck remains visible at Portland
General characteristics
Class and type: Royal Sovereign class (half-sister)
Type: Predreadnought battleship
Displacement: 14,190 t; 15,580 t full load
Length: 410 ft 5 in (125.10 m) oa
Beam: 75 ft (23 m)
Draught: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Installed power: 9000 ihp
Propulsion: Twin coal-fired Humphreys & Tennant 3-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, two screws
Speed: 15.7 knots (29 km/h) max
Range: 2,780 nautical miles (5,149 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h); 4,720 (8,741 km) nautical miles at 10 knots (18.5 km/h)[4]
Complement: 712

4 × BL 13.5-inch (342.9 mm) guns (2 × 2)
10 × QF 6 in (152 mm) (10 × 1)
10 × 6 pdr (10 × 1)
12 × 3 pdr (12 × 1)

6 × 18 inch (450 mm) Torpedo Tubes (4 above water, 2 underwater)
Armour: Belt 18 in (457 mm) compound, deck 3 in (76 mm), turret 17 in (432 mm)

The second warship to be named HMS Hood was a modified Royal Sovereign-class battleship of the Royal Navy, and the last of the eight built.

She was named after Admiral Sir Arthur William Acland Hood, First Lord of the Admiralty 1885–1889. (The other two Hoods were named after an earlier relative, Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood.)


HMS Hood was laid down at Chatham Dockyard on 12 August 1889. She was launched on 30 July 1891, the Viscountess Hood christening her. She completed her sea trials in May 1893 and was completed on 1 June 1893.[1]

In their day, the battleships of the Royal Sovereign class were the largest warships ever built. Hood differed significantly from the other Royal Sovereigns in that she had a freeboard of only 11 feet 3 inches (3.43 m) compared to 19 feet 6 inches (5.94 m) of the other members of the class. The Royal Sovereigns had reverted to a higher freeboard after several classes of low freeboard vessel had been constructed, the last being the Trafalgar class. Low freeboard had been popular for around ten years since it gave a smaller hull area to armour and made a smaller target for gunfire to hit, although it had the disadvantage that it reduced seaworthiness.

This small freeboard meant that Hood was very wet in rough weather and her maximum speed reduced rapidly as the wave height increased, making her only suitable for service in the relatively calm Mediterranean. This was seen as a vindication of the barbette/high-freeboard design in the rest of her class, and all subsequent British battleship classes had high freeboard. In part this was also due to the Entente Cordiale between France and Great Britain in which France took over defence of the Mediterranean and the Royal Navy was concentrated in the rougher home waters around the United Kingdom.

Because the stability of a ship is largely due to freeboard at high rolling angles, she was given a larger metacentric height (the vertical distance between the metacenter and the centre of gravity below it) of around 4.1 feet (1.2 m) instead of the 3.6 feet (1.1 m) of the rest of the Royal Sovereigns to make her roll less in rough seas. This had the effect of making her roll period shorter by around 7% compared to her sisters, which in turn made her gunnery less accurate.

In spite of the lower centre of gravity required, the increased displacement to achieve the lower freeboard allowed more weight in or near the keel, allowing the main armament guns and gun crews to be protected by armoured turrets—a heavy type of rotating gun mounting of the mid- and late 19th century very different from what would later be known as gun "turrets" on ships—rather than having the guns exposed on top of barbettes -- the ancestor of the modern "turret", which is essentially a barbette enclosed by a rotating gunhouse, a very different concept from the older style of turret Hood mounted—as the other members of the class. The heavy, old-fashioned type of turrets added to the amount of weight high up in the ship compared to barbettes and also drove the design toward a lower freeboard.[5]

The upper 6-inch (152-mm) gun deck in the other Royal Sovereigns was enclosed in casemates in 1901-1902 replacing the original gun shields, but the stability of the Hood was considered insufficient for this modification.

The Royal Sovereign class battleships at first had a tendency to roll heavily in certain conditions; after HMS Resolution rolled badly in heavy seas in 1893, the class was nicknamed the "Rolling Ressies," a name which stuck even though the fitting of bilge keels quickly solved the problem.[2]

Overall, Hood was considered a useful comparison to her near-sisters, as the operational utility of old-style heavy turrets and the resulting required low freeboard could be compared to that of lighter barbettes allowing a higher freeboard aboard otherwise nearly identical ships in terms of machinery, protection, armament, and so forth. The Royal Navy concluded that the advantages of barbettes and higher freeboard they allowed outweighed the drawbacks of heavier, old-style turrets and the lower freeboard requirement they imposed, and future British battleships were designed with barbettes and higher freeboard, with the barbettes protected by armored rotating gunhouses (the modern gun "turret").[5]

Operational history

HMS Hood commissioned at Chatham on 1 June 1893 for service with the Mediterranean Fleet. She had an inauspicious beginning, being in commission only six days when she sprang a leak in her forward compartments on 7 June 1893 as a result of faulty riveting and excessive strain on the hull when she had been on the blocks. Repairs were complete in two days, and on 9 June 1893 she returned to service. The Duke of Edinburgh inspected her ceremonially, after which she departed Chatham Dockyard on 12 June 1893. She was inspected officially by Vice Admiral Sir Algernon C. F. Heneage, Commander in Chief at the Nore, on 17 June 1893. She departed Sheerness for the Mediterranean on 18 June 1893, stopping at Gibraltar to coal from 26 June 1893 to 29 June 1893.[6]

Hood arrived at Malta on 3 July 1893 to take up her Mediterranean Fleet duties, relieving battleship HMS Colossus. In 1897 and 1898, Hood served as part of the International Squadron blockading Crete and maintaining order during the Greco-Turkish uprising there. Her Mediterranean Fleet service ended in April 1900, when she returned to the United Kingdom without relief in the Mediterranean and paid off into reserve at Chatham Dockyard on 29 April 1900.[6]

On 12 December 1900, Hood recommissioned to relieve battleship HMS Thunderer as port guard ship at Pembroke Dock.[6]

File:HMS Hood (1891) Bows-On Mediterranean 1901.jpg
HMS Hood in the Mediterranean in 1901.

At the end of 1901, Hood transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet for a second period of service there. She participated in combined exercises of the Mediterranean Fleet, Channel Fleet, and Cruiser Squadron off the coasts of Cephalonia and Morea that began on 29 September 1902. Two days before the exercises ended, Hood damaged her rudder on on the seabed while leaving Angostili Harbor on 4 October 1902. She went first to Malta for temporary repairs, then on to England for permanent repairs at Chatham Dockyard, steering by the use of her twin screws rather than her broken rudder for the entire way. She paid off at Chatham on 5 December 1902 to begin those repairs. Upon their completion, she transferred to Devonport for a refit.[6]

Her refit completed, Hood commissioned at Devonport on 25 June 1903 to relieve battleship HMS Collingwood in the Channel Fleet. As a unit of "Fleet B1," she took part in combined exercises of the Channel Fleet, Mediterranean Fleet, and Home Fleet in annual maneuvers off the coast of Portugal from 5 August 1903 to 9 August 1903. On 28 September 1904, battleship HMS Russell relieved Hood of her Channel Fleet duties. Hood commissioned into reserve at Devonport on 3 January 1905, where she remained in reserve until February 1907.[6]

In April 1909, Hood was refitted and partially stripped at Devonport, after which she began service as a receiving ship at Queenstown, Ireland. In September 1910, she recommissioned to continue this service and to serve as flagship of the Senior Naval Officer, Coast of Ireland.[7] On 2 April 1911 she was in Cork Harbour for the 1911 Census.[8]

In late 1911, she was towed to Portsmouth and placed on the disposal list. From 1911 to 1914, she was employed as a target for underwater protection experiments, and in 1913 and 1914 was used in highly secret tests of anti-torpedo bulges, proving their utility for use on Royal Navy capital ships.[9] Subsequently she was photographed in dry dock at Portsmouth by the crew of Naval Airship No. 18 in June 1914,[10] before being placed on the Sale List in August 1914.[11]


File:Portland harbour south.JPG
The outline of the wreck of Hood can be seen between the breakwaters of Portland Harbour.

After World War I began in August 1914, concerns arose over gaps in the defences of Portland harbour. On 4 November 1914, Hood was scuttled in Portland harbour to block the Southern Ship Channel, a potential access route for U-boats or for torpedoes fired from outside of the harbour. The intention had been for her to gradually settle on the seabed with her seacocks open but she took so long to sink that the tide turned and she started to be pulled out of position, and consequently explosives were quickly used to blow a hole in her hull. She broke her back and came to rest with her keel awash;[7] the wreck lies upside down, a common position for sunken battleships because of the weight of the turrets, at 50°34.10′N 2°25.22′W / 50.5683°N 2.42033°W / 50.5683; -2.42033.

Her wreck became known as "Old Hole in the Wall"[7] and was popular with local scuba divers until diving there was banned at the beginning of January 2004 for safety reasons.

Despite her 1914 scuttling, the Royal Navy included Hood on its sale list in both 1916 and 1917.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burt, p. 87
  2. 2.0 2.1 Burt, p. 66
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921, pp. 6-7
  4. Burt, pp. 63, 87
  5. 5.0 5.1 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, p. 33, and Burt, p. 85
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Burt, p. 89
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Burt, p. 90
  8. 1911 Census
  9. Burt, p. 90, and Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 7.
  10. Photographs included in ADM 1/8386/216, British National Archives.
  11. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 7.


  • Burt, R. A. British Battleships 1889-1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0870210610.
  • D. K. Brown, Warrior to Dreadnought, Warship Development 1860-1906, ISBN 1-84067-529-2
  • Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds., Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1979), ISBN 0-85177-133-5
  • Gray, Randal, ed. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0870219073.

External links

Coordinates: 50°34′09″N 2°25′16″W / 50.56917°N 2.42111°W / 50.56917; -2.42111

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