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Hood and Bismarck – The Deep-Sea Discovery of an Epic Battle

David L. Mearns OAM

In May 1941 the most dramatic sea battle of the Second World War took place. Its protagonists were the two mightiest capital ships of the era – the German battleship, Bismarck, and the British battlecruiser, Hood. Their confrontation would result in the destruction of both battleships and the loss of over 3,500 lives. In the summer of 2001 – the sixtieth anniversary of this apocalyptic battle – David Mearns led an expedition that discovered the wreck of Hood for the very first time and revisited the wreck of Bismarck. Also tracing the history of these awe-inspiring vessels and the events that led to their fatal clash, Hood and Bismarck chronicles the progress and findings of this incredible mission.

Launched in 1920, Hood was the largest and most modern warship of her era – as the Bismarck was of hers. Although twenty years her senior, Hood boasted similar guns, displacement and speed – the outcome of their confrontation was by no means a foregone conclusion. In reality, however, Hood faltered under the hail of deadly accurate shells from Bismarck, sinking in less than three minutes – only three of her crew survived. Reeling from the loss of their ‘Mighty Hood’, the Royal Navy unleashed the full might of its air and sea forces to find and destroy Bismarck. Eventually found as she ran for the French coast by an RAF Catalina, Bismarck was sunk after a two-hour battle.  Only 115 survivors were picked up from a crew of 2,200.

Tying into a major Channel 4 series, Hood and Bismarck follows the expedition to find Hood that is the climax of six years’ painstaking detective work and planning by David Mearns and his team at Blue Water Recoveries.  Using unique footage of Hood and Bismarck collected from this expedition, Hood and Bismarck seeks to provide some of the first answers to questions that have fired controversial debate ever since 1941: Was Hood’s rapid sinking the result of her thin deck armour, leaving her vulnerable to plunging shells? Was Bismarck really sunk by torpedoes or did these only hasten the scuttling that had already been put in motion? Drawing on unique evidence uncovered by the expedition, Hood and Bismarck seeks to shed new light on the cataclysmic demise of two of the last great battleships.

ISBN : 07522 2035 7

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