HMS Hood Facts: The Mighty Battlecruiser of the Royal Navy with a Storied Legacy

HMS Hood: The Battlecruiser of the Royal Navy was HMS Hood. After being put into service, she was dubbed “The Mighty Hood” because to her prominence as the largest battleship in the world for twenty years.

One of the most elegant-looking warships of the era, she had a slim profile and twin funnels. Because of her immense size, strength, and role in multiple Royal Navy victories during the World War Years, she came to represent the power of the British Empire.

Discover ten fascinating facts about HMS Hood by reading this article.

1. HMS Hood’s design and construction

HMS Hood, an Admiral-class battlecruiser, was ordered from Clydebank Shipyard (shipyard no.460) of Jon Brown during World War I.

She was 262.3 meters long, 31.8 meters wide, and 9.8 meters deep. Compared with previous ships of the same kind, the Hood was 20.1 m longer and 4.3 m wider.

The ship’s weapons could launch a one-ton projectile 17 miles away, and its 144,000 horsepower steam engines could propel her into combat at 32 knots. Compared to her predecessors, she was supposed to be bigger, faster, and more heavily equipped.

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But just as her keel was being cast, three Royal Navy battleships of her kind were sunk in the 1916 Battle of Jutland, exposing the design weaknesses in the British Battlecruisers. The Admiralty postponed building her in order to make changes to her design, adding over 4,000 tonnes of armor to bring her up to level with modern battleships.

Only Hood could be finished out of the four battlecruisers that were supposed to be built. Building merchant ships required a lot of labor and supplies because building ships was very expensive and many were lost in the German U-Boat Campaign.

2. Known as “the Navy’s largest submarine”

the Navy's largest submarine
(Credit: Portsmouth)

HMS Hood was not too shaky. At a deep load, nevertheless, the extra armour caused her draft to rise by 1.2 meters. This reduced her freeboard, and when traveling at top speed or in rough waves, water seeped through ventilation shafts and over the quarterdeck, mess decks, and even the living rooms.

The ship was dubbed the largest submarine in the Navy because of how wet it was. Additionally, the HMS Hood’s inadequate ventilation contributed to multiple cases of tuberculosis among the sailors.

Over her career, her complement changed. She carried 1433 men in 1934, with 1244 ratings and 81 officers on board. Additionally, HMS Hood carried fuel oil, enabling her to travel 7500 nm at 14 knots.

3. The Battlecruiser Squadron’s flagship

HMS Hood, which was put into service on May 15, 1920, was assigned as the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet’s Battlecruiser Squadron.

In the same year, she visited Scandinavian seas, then in 1921 and 1922, she traveled to the Mediterranean to fly the flag and get training with the Mediterranean Fleet. After that, she traveled with the Battlecruiser Squadron to Brazil and the West Indies. She also took part in a number of fleet drills designed to evaluate British naval strategies.

Her presence prevented the German High Seas Fleet from confronting the British Grand Fleet, even though she did not participate in any significant naval battles. Additionally, it aided in the 1920 British takeover of Constantinople, or Istanbul.

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4. Contribution to World War II

HMS Hood had been in service for twenty years when the Second World War started, and because of her engagements, she had not had a significant overhaul or upgrade. She searched the Norwegian Sea for German raiders and blockade runners for several months while operating close to Iceland.

Following a brief modification to her propulsion system, she assumed the role of Force H’s flagship and decimated the French Fleet at the 1940 battle of Mers el Kebir. She also took part in the actions off the coast of Norway that stopped Germany from occupying Norwegian ports. It also supported Allied soldiers on land with naval firepower.

She was then transported to Scapa Flow and assigned to the Home Fleet. She served as both a defense against a possible German invasion fleet and an escort for convoys. Hood searched the Northern Waters for any German naval activity that would be cause for concern.

She was sent from Scapa Flow in 1941 to thwart the German Battleship Bismarck, which was rumored to have sailed out of Norway on an Atlantic raiding expedition.

5. The Battle of Denmark

The Battle of Denmark

HMS Hood and Bismarck In May 1941, the battleship Prince of Wales and HMS Hood

were sent to meet the German battleship Strait Bismarck before it could attack the Allied convoys in the Atlantic.

Norfolk and Suffolk, two British heavy cruisers, saw the German ships. In the Denmark Strait, which separates Greenland and Iceland, Hood intercepted Bismarck and her companion, the powerful cruiser Prince Eugen, on May 24.

6. The Mighty HMS Hood’s Sinking

Since Prince Eugen’s hydrophones had previously picked up on the sounds of propellers to the southeast, the Germans were aware of the presence of the British ships. The German ships focused on Hood as the British started firing. A shell struck Hood’s boat deck in the space between her funnels, igniting a large fire among the ammo.

Just as Hood turned to show off her rear turrets, a shell from Bismarck’s fifth volley struck her on the boat deck. The ship’s aft was completely wrecked when a magazine explosion caused flames to break out close to the mainmast. It sank fast, and Hood was last seen with her bow nearly vertical in the water.

Only three of the 1418 guys on Hood made it out alive. Two hours after the Hood sank, Ordinary Signalman Ted Briggs, Able Seaman Robert Tilburn, and Midshipman William John Dundas were saved. Destroyer Electra discovered them.

The Hood’s career came to an end during this action, and 1415 men lost their lives—the highest number of casualties aboard any Royal Navy warship ever. HMS Hood’s loss had a profound impact on a large area. It was a blow to British confidence, which is why Bismarck had to be destroyed. Thus, the Royal Navy tracked down and sank the Bismarck three days later.

7. Honoring the 1415 Crew Members of the HMS Hood

The HMS Hood sank, taking the lives of about 1415 sailors and left many families in mourning. In honor of and remembrance of the HMS Hood sailors, the HMS Hood Association was established in 1975.

Veterans who had served on the battleship before her final voyage created it with support from the three sailors who survived the sinking and some of the families of those who died.

The Association is still expanding because anyone can become a member. There are about 400 members as of right now.

The HMS Hood Association funded the half-hour film “For Years Unseen.” It concerns David Mearns’ 2015 retrieval of Hood’s Bell from the wreck. The movie has 600,000 views on YouTube and is accessible there.

8. Locating the HMS Hood Wreck

Locating the HMS Hood Wreck
Credit: Key Military

In an effort to locate the HMS Hood wreck, Channel 4 contacted shipwreck hunter David Mearns and his team in 2001. In order to create a documentary for the 60th anniversary of the fight, the channel requested that he capture underwater footage of the ship and her attacker, the Bismarck.

Mearns and his crew picked a 2100 km2 search region after gathering footage of the Bismarck, and then used side-scan sonar to locate the wreck of the HMS Hood. It was found strewn across two debris fields at a depth of 2800 meters, smashed into fragments.

The amidships part was the largest to survive. It was also possible to identify more parts of the stern, bow, and conning tower.

The wreck is located in the Denmark Strait’s Irminger Basin, which separates Greenland and Iceland. The UK declared the wreck to be a protected war cemetery in 2002.

9. The mission to recover the Bell of HMS Hood

In order to erect a memorial honoring the remaining members of Hood’s crew who gave their lives in the battle, the British Government went back to Mearns in 2012. The National Museum of the Royal Navy was chosen to house it.

Mearns and his crew went back to Hood’s last resting site, reshot the accident, and conducted another survey. Hood’s Bell was eventually found in 2015, and on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Denmark Strait, it was displayed in 2016.

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During a memorial ceremony, the bell was rung eight times. Descendants of the ship’s previous crew attended. After that, the bell was preserved in the Battle of Jutland exhibit at the museum.

10. HMS Hood Relics That Are Still Alive

There are still some remnants of the HMS Hood, such as a sizable section of a wooden transom from one of its boats that drifted to Norway following the ship’s destruction. It is kept in London’s National Maritime Museum.

In 1942, a year after the Battle of Denmark Strait, a metal box containing administrative records washed up on the Island of Senja. Both the container and its stuff vanished. On the other hand, in 1981, its lid was located and given to the Royal Navy facility HMS Centurion.

During the 1935 refurbishment of HMS Hood, two of its 5.5-inch guns were removed. In 1941, they were transferred to Ascension Island and set up as a shore battery there. The cannons are still there; they are positioned atop a hill overlooking the port and Georgetown settlement.

Only once, on a German submarine named U-124, were the weapons fired in 1941’s operational lifetime. The submarine was heading for Georgetown intending to attack ships anchored or bombarding the cable station. The submarine withdrew after the guns failed to hit their objective.


Since the Mighty Hood was regarded as the most potent battle cruiser in the world at the time of her sinking, it was a huge loss for the Royal Navy. The German battleship Bismarck struck HMS Hood, which sank despite the crew’s valiant efforts up until the very end.

The Royal Navy learned important lessons from the loss of Hood about battlecruiser design and armour protection for later vessel building.

One of HMS Hood’s bells was recovered in 2012, and the shipwreck was discovered in 2001. The government also designated the location of her wreck as a protected war cemetery. Hood is still a representation of British naval might, and the HMS Hood Association is carrying on the Hoods’ legacy.

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