Shonas Wrecks - HMS Hood

This page is an entry in Shonas Wreck Guide.

HMS Hood in 1896

HMS Hood (Royal Sovereign Class battleship)

Type: Royal Sovereign class battleship
Builders: Chatham Dockyard - Chatham
Launched: 1891
Dim: 380ft x 75ft
Tonnage: 14150gt
Engines: Steam Turbine x 4
Arm: 4 x 13.5" guns, 10 x 6" broadside guns
Fate: Sunk 04 November 1914 as a blockship for southern entrance to Portland Harbour, designed to stop U-boats entering or firing torpedoes into Channel Fleet anchorage. Both seacocks and explosives were used to sink her, but she rolled to port and capsized onto seabed

HMS Hood was the eighth battleship of the Naval Defence act of March 1889 and followed the design of the Royal Sovereign Class of Battleship, with the same compartmentation, armour and armaments distribution. Of awesome proportions, the Hood was launched at Chatham in 1891 and was taken out of service in 1911 only to be used for torpedo practice at Portsmouth by the Royal Navy. After being towed to Portland, the Hood was consigned to the seabed on 4 November 1914 in a bid to protect Portland from submarine attack on anchored ships during the First World War.

since her launch the armoured monster had become known throughout the fleet as a good looker, but a lousy sailer. She was weighed down with heavily armoured turrets which the First Sea Lord, Sir Arthur Hood, had insisted were installed to house her big guns. This extra weight lowered her freeboard so that she needed dead calm to proceed at speed, otherwise great green seas came aboard and the whole ship was covered in clouds of spray, making gunnery impossible.

So it is not surprising that shortly after her completion, the warship was sent to the calmer waters of the Mediterranean. She stayed there for nine years, was put on reserve duties and then transferred to Portland as a target for torpedo practices. Her guns were taken out - they had never once fired a shot in anger.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War One, on 4 November, 1914, the Hood was sunk across the southern entrance to Portland to stop any crafty U-boat commander firing torpedoes into the anchored Channel Fleet. But she didn't go quietly. Once she was towed into position, the seacocks were opened so that she would sink gracefully and upright. However, it took so long that the tide turned and started to pull her out of place. Explosives were hurriedly used to blow a hole in her side, she filled too quickly, did a port roll, and crashed completely upside down into the seabed.

HMS Hood

The wreck now lies keel up in 15-18m of water and although a great training wreck for many years, after over 80 years in her present location, is beginning to deteriorate. Much can still be seen though, marine life is prolific, especially in summer look out for Pollack, crabs, lobsters, cod, bass, and pipe-fish. If you're lucky you might also catch a glimpse of the odd John Dory or even a Blenny!

The wreck interior is accessible, but only for the more experienced diver, even then, with caution. It's fascinating to see the engine room, with much of the remaining machinery hanging from the 'ceiling'! The Hood is probably the most difficult dive in the harbour to the infrequent visitor because its currents are among the strongest in the area.

HMS Hood at Portland harbour prior to its sinking in the South channel entrance