Shipwreck Ark Royal


BBC1 is running a programme called Shipwreck Ark Royal on Sunday at 8pm. The first public pictures of the 1941 wreck. Should be good viewing!
Saw some previews on Richard and Judy - does indeed look good - they had a couple of old hands from Ark Royal who were actually on board when it was torpedoed.l


War Hero
Bloody marvellous film!Very good camera work,the old crew members were even got to "land" the ROV on the filght deck!


Lantern Swinger
Just finished both parts.

Fcuk me i was moved.

Splendid stuff - remarkable how they got the guy who damaged the bismark, the last man off and others who had tales to tell.

was welling up when i saw them let that old poridge wog "land" the remote robotic camera on the flight deck!!!



A fantastic documentary. At the very end Dan Snow says the Captain was court marshalled but i dont understand why?


Yes wondered too why he was Court Marshalled, unless it was for a cock up after the torpedo hit, is there any way to find out?

What a wonderful experience for those old shipmates, sad but unforgettable.


Lantern Swinger
In the good ole days all Captains were court martialled over the loss of their ship for any reason, even if they were not at fault and were honourably acquitted

One reason, I suspect, was that it was a formal way of establishing what had happened

I don't know when this practice stopped - perhaps it still happened in WW2


Book Reviewer
I thought it still happened, can any of the Falklands Vets. update, I read the story of the Ardent? a while ago and my failing memory tells me that the Captain was subject to a Court Martial.


Lantern Swinger
Because there is one body down there, it's classed as a war grave, so they can't just take souvenirs.

Also, teaching the old buggers to use deep-diving equipment may not have been a good move, unless you wanted more bodies down there! I think they were just chuffed to be able to see the ship.
janner said:
I thought it still happened, can any of the Falklands Vets. update, I read the story of the Ardent? a while ago and my failing memory tells me that the Captain was subject to a Court Martial.
Could be worse he could get a C126.

I can see the SA now...
"Right shippers, you signed for it, so you had better find it. I don't care how you lost it"


Lantern Swinger
And when JPA comes in, they won't even need your approval to take it out of your wages. Why do you think they have increased the debt recover time to 12 months.....


PompeySailor said:
Because there is one body down there, it's classed as a war grave, so they can't just take souvenirs.

Also, teaching the old buggers to use deep-diving equipment may not have been a good move, unless you wanted more bodies down there! I think they were just chuffed to be able to see the ship.
Would they have left the body there?


Lantern Swinger
Yep. There was only one killed in the whole sinking (which is pretty amazing when you consider it). You also have to consider how the magazines worked on there - first sign of fire, and they were flooded - they were pre-locked as well, so no-one was getting out.


Damage Report - Ark Royal

HMS Ark Royal was torpedoed by U-81 on November 14th, 1941. A single g7e torpedo struck the ship on the starboard side, abreast of the Island. This position was the worst possible in that, being dead midships, it was where the list caused would be greatest and its position relative to the transverse bulkheads was such that four main compartments plus over 106 feet of the ship's starboard bilge was immediately subject to flooding.

The enemy torpedo was running very deep and, at the time, there was some speculation that it may have used a non-contact (magnetic) exploder. This was later discounted on grounds that the damage inflicted by the hit was not as extensive as, nor was it of the type typical of, under-the-keel hits.

The explosion opened a hole 130 feet long by 30 feet deep, the size being increased by the time taken to bring the ship to a halt, resulting in additional hull plating being peeled off. This resulted in the starboard boiler room, air spaces and oil tanks flooding as did the main switchboard and the lower steering position. The starboard power train was also knocked out by the hit but the port and centerline trains kept functioning.

Some of the torpedo blast vented upwards through a bomb trunk forward of the Island. The ship whipped violently with the explosion which caused the fully-loaded torpedo-bombers on the flight deck to be hurled into the air. The ship however, showed very little shock damage internally and her masts remained standing. The Ark Royal (immediately after the explosion) took on a 10 degree list that increased to 18 degrees within 20 minutes.

Due to the flooding of the switchboard, communications within the ship were lost, explaining the delay in bringing the ship to a halt. At this point the Captain decided to evacuate the ship. All personnel were withdrawn from the machinery spaces and assembled topside in order to determine who should leave the ship and who should remain on board. As a result of this action, damage control measures were only initiated 49 minutes after the hit, the flooding having been uncontrolled for this period. During this critical period, the centerline boiler room started to flood from below. During the evacuation of the machinery spaces several covers and armored hatcheswere left open, allowing the flooding to spread further than otherwise would be expected.

As the ship listed further, water came in through the uptakes of the starboard boiler room, flooding over into the centerline, and later into the port, boiler rooms. This flooding further reduced the area through which the funnel gases could escape, causing severe local overheating and fires.

One hour and 19 minutes after the torpedo hit, all power within the ship failed. Meanwhile, most of the crew had been ordered to evacuate the ship. Those that left the ship included the entire staff of shipwrights and key members of the electrical staff, depriving the damage control crews of much-needed expertise. There were still further delays before the repair crews returned to the machinery spaces and attempts at counter-flooding started.

Only half of the available compartments on the portside were flooded, (which reduced the list to 14 degrees) because there was a lack of specialist expertise in the damage control parties. To make matters worse, the flooding valves were not then closed, so the water in the counterflooded units was gradually expelled as more water entered the starboard side of the ship.

Flooding and the loss of feedwater had already shut the ship's power-plant down. Since all the generators were steam-powered, this deprived the ship of electrical as well as motive power. The ship's engineers fought to get the plant back on line despite the rising floodwaters.They won that battle five hours and 34 minutes after the torpedo hit when the portside boiler room was lit off.

However, by that time, the list had increased to 18 degrees and the flooding was starting to spread across the ship's boiler room flat. This was an uninterrupted compartment running across the whole width of the ship, making the entire area of the machinery spaces vulnerable. The efforts made by the engine room crews to restore power were futile. The boiler room flat flooding forced the plant to be shut down again.

Progressive flooding now caused the list to increase rapidly. The list reached 20 degrees 11 hours and 4 minutes after the hit and touched 27 degrees an hour and a quarter later. At this point, the abandon ship order was again given. All crew were off the ship at 0430hrs, 12 hours 19 minutes after the hit, at which time the list had reached 35 degrees.

HMS Ark Royal capsized and sank at 0619hrs after the list reached 45 degrees. Although the ship had been designed with a great reserve of buoyancy, this had been allowed to dwindle away and an invaluable warship had been lost.

After the Second World War, the loss of Ark Royal was investigated. The conclusion drawn was that, on a target of 22,000 tons, the provision of an effective anti-torpedo scheme was difficult.

However, when a comparison with the Yorktown was held it was demonstrated that it was possible, and that the Yorktown had only sunk when all her reserve buoyancy had been exhausted.

The primary cause of the loss of Ark Royal was held to be the inexperience and poor judgement of those responsible for damage control and their lack of initiative. Proper damage control measures were not undertaken in good time nor was action to tow the ship to Gibraltar, less than 25 miles away undertaken promptly.

The torpedo hit on Ark Royal was serious but put the ship in no immediate danger of sinking The prompt application of counterflooding and standard damage control procedures would have saved the ship.

The Investigation also concluded that there were a variety of design factors contributing to the loss:

The uninterrupted boiler room flat was a significant error that was immediately rectified in the Illustrious and Indefatigable class.
The adoption of a double hangar had forced the use of cross-deck uptakes low in the ship adding to vulnerability.
The reliance on steam generators was also an error and diesel generators were back-fitted to the armored carriers.
The power train design itself was strongly criticized.

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