The loss of HMS Hood, with 1,400 crew was the Royal Navy’s darkest hour.
It was on a remote stretch of the sea between Greenland and Iceland, 75 years ago, that in the last great battleship duel in the history of maritime warfare, Hitler’s Bismarck sank HMS Hood.She was sent to the bottom on May 24, 1941, as she steamed in to attack the Bismarck and her escort cruiser Prinz Eugen before they could break out into the Atlantic and attack the Allied convoys. A huge explosion sent a 600ft column of flame and smoke into the sky, and the 40,000-ton Hood broke in half and sank in just three minutes — taking all but three of her 1,418 officers and crew.
A passionate military buff from Devon, England, is working to build a fully functional 25 foot model in his back yard of the historic battleship. Martin Hall-Kenny is the man who decided to act on his military passion for naval history. To commemorate the 75th anniversary since the HMS Hood sunk, he is working to construct and complete a working model of this ill-fated ship.
After four months of steadily working on this major project, he had already built the hull. Then his attention was shifted to detailing the vessel with decking, turrets and living quarters. The living quarters will be able to completely enclose Martin and an additional ‘crew mate’.
This version of HMS Hood is being configured in a way that allows it to be piloted by the use of a control panel and CCTV system. He has built the system into the interior of the boat. Martin might be 60 years old, but he describes himself as a big kid. It was not until he relocated to his current home in Devon that he felt he had adequate space (man cave) to start work on his project.
He described his fascination of ships as something he has always had. The ‘ship’ he is working on is a model, but it will be functional. It is going to have the ability to hold a crew of two, but Martin will be at the helm. While guiding the boat he will be completely hidden inside the hull of the vessel.
Martin is hoping the vessel will take part in the commemorations in Portsmouth to honor the 75th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Hood. Furthermore, if completed on time, it would commemorate the 100th anniversary of HMS Hoods construction. He is aware that some people have expressed their opinion that building this boat is simply silly. However, Martin just shrugs the comments off and remains un-bothered by them. After all, he will be the one that gets to be inside the boat having a great time. Plus, its a one off and no other like it in the world.
Her last remaining survivor, Ted Briggs, passed away in 2008. Both in size of ship and number of men killed, she was the biggest single loss in the Royal Navy’s history. The disaster prompted Churchill to issue his famous order: ‘Sink the Bismarck!’ (which happened six days later).
The Hood has lain untouched and largely forgotten nearly two miles down in the cold darkness of the Irminger Basin, taking with her the mystery of why she sank so quickly. Hopes that she may reveal her secrets were first raised in 2001, when Sussex-based shipwreck expert David Mearns discovered and filmed her remains, scattered over 1½ miles of seabed.
As his remote-controlled underwater vehicle skimmed over the wreck, its lights caught the gleam of the ship’s main brass bell, unscathed amid the devastation. The wreck is protected as a war grave but, after receiving permission from the British government and the Admiralty, Paul Allen’s August 2015 expedition recovered the bell — the ship’s proudest symbol, used to mark time on board and regulate the crew’s turns of duty.