Historic Moment For HMS Hood As Bell Lifted From Seabed After 74 Years
A research team led by an American billionaire philanthropist has successfully recovered the bell of the battle-cruiser HMS Hood, which was...
A research team led by an American billionaire philanthropist has successfully recovered the bell of the battle-cruiser HMS Hood, which was sunk along with nearly all of her crew during World War II.
Recovering the bell was the final wish of Ted Briggs, one of the ship's three survivors out of her 1,418 crew. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen hopes to restore the bell as a memorial for the lives lost when the Bismarck sunk the ship in the North Atlantic.
The bell was successfully recovered from the dark depths of the Denmark Strait on August 7th. Mr. Allen's team led the operation using his yacht M/Y Octopus, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
The Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy are grateful for Mr. Allen's generosity in recovering the bell at no cost to the MOD.
"This year marks the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II, and this effort commemorates the hundreds of brave sailors who were lost at sea," said Allen. "It is a true honour to undertake the expedition to recover the bell from 'The Mighty Hood'."
The bell is in good condition but will require a year-long expert conservation and restoration effort because it has spent so long in deep seawater.
An engraving on the bell records the wishes of Lady Hood, who launched the ship in memory of her late husband Rear Admiral Sir Horace Hood KCB DSO MVO, who was killed in the battle of Jutland.
Director of Blue Water Recoveries, David Mearns, said:
"Despite 74 years of immersion in the hostile depths of Denmark Strait the bell is in very good condition. The inscriptions decorating its surface clearly indicate that the bell was preserved for use on the battle-cruiser Hood after first being used as the bell of the Battleship Hood from 1891 to 1914. This bell has therefore seen action in two Capital ships of the Royal Navy spanning a period of 50 years.
"The bell we recovered is a unique historical artefact, which shows just how important Hood was as flagship of the British Battlecruiser Squadron. 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."
Commenting on the successful recovery, First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas said:
"A magnificent symbol of the power of the Royal Navy in the inter-war years, 'The Mighty Hood' is one of the greatest fighting ships in our nation's long and glorious maritime history.
"That she was lost with her guns thundering in defence of the convoys that formed Britain's lifeline is a tragic reminder of the high price that our island nation paid for survival, and for the freedom and prosperity we enjoy today."
Her story, her sacrifice, continues to inspire the Royal Navy today. The recovery of the Ship's Bell will help ensure the 1,415 men lost, and the name Hood, will always be remembered by a grateful nation."
HMS Hood is the largest Royal Navy vessel to have been sunk, causing the largest loss of life suffered by any single British warship and the recovery is fully-supported by the HMS Hood Association whose members include veterans who served in the ship before her final mission in 1941, and relatives of those lost with her.
HMS Hood - March 17, 1924
President of the Association is Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks, whose uncle was among those who died on board HMS Hood. Admiral Wilcocks said:
"For the 1,415 officers and men who lost their lives in HMS Hood on 24 May 1941, the recovery of her bell and its subsequent place of honour in the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth will mean that future generations will be able to gaze upon her bell and remember with gratitude and thanks the heroism, courage and personal sacrifice of Hood's ship's company who died in the service of their country.