- "Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational Battlecruiser!"
- —Vice Admiral Holland
- "SINK HER! SINK THE HOOD!”"
- —Adolf Hitler
HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, she was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. Hood operated in World War II and sunk the German battleship Bismarck in June 1941.
One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, her design—although drastically revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction—still had serious limitations. For this reason she was the only ship of her class to be completed. Hood was involved in a number of showing the flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to England in 1939 for an overhaul. At this point in her service, Hood's usefulness had deteriorated because of advances in naval gunnery. She underwent a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues.
Today Hood is a publicly accessible floating museum.
Shortly after commissioning on May 15th 1920, Hood became the flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes. After a cruise to Scandinavian waters that year, Captain Geoffrey Mackworth assumed command. Hood visited the Mediterranean in 1921 and 1922 to show the flag and to train with the Mediterranean Fleet, before sailing on a cruise to Brazil and the West Indies in company with the Battlecruiser Squadron.
Captain John im Thurn was in command when Hood, accompanied by the battlecruiser Repulse and Danae-class cruisers of the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron, set out on a world cruise from west to east via the Panama Canal in November 1923. The objective of the cruise was to remind the Dominions of their dependence on British sea power and encourage them to support it with money, ships and facilities. They returned home ten months later in September 1924 having visited South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States and some smaller colonies and dependencies en route. While in Australia in April 1924, the squadron escorted the battlecruiser HMAS Australia out to sea where she was scuttled in compliance with the Washington Naval Treaty. The Battlecruiser Squadron visited Lisbon in January 1925 to participate in the Vasco da Gama celebrations before continuing on to the Mediterranean for exercises. Hood continued this pattern of a winter training visit to the Mediterranean for the rest of the decade. Captain Harold Reinold relieved Captain im Thurn on April 30th 1925 and was relieved in turn by Captain Wilfred French on May 21st 1927.
Hood was given a major refit from May 1st 1929 to March 10th 1931, and afterwards resumed her role as flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron under the command of Captain Julian Patterson. Later that year, her crew participated in the Invergordon Mutiny over pay cuts for the sailors. It ended peacefully and Hood returned to her home port afterwards. The Battlecruiser Squadron made a Caribbean cruise in early 1932, and Hood was given another brief refit between March 31st and May 10th at Portsmouth. Captain Thomas Binney assumed command on August 15th 1932 and the ship resumed her previous practice of a winter cruise in the Mediterranean the next year. Captain Thomas Tower replaced Captain Binney on August 30th 1933. Her secondary and anti-aircraft fire-control directors were rearranged during another quick refit between August 1st and September 5th 1934.
While en route to Gibraltar for a Mediterranean cruise, Hood was rammed in the port side quarterdeck by the battlecruiser Renown on January 23rd 1935. The damage to Hood was limited to her left outer propeller and an 18-inch (460 mm) dent, although some hull plates were knocked loose from the impact. Temporary repairs were made at Gibraltar before the ship sailed to Portsmouth for a major reconstruction between February 1935 and December 1938. The captains of both ships were court-martialed, as was the squadron commander, Rear Admiral Sidney Bailey. Tower and Bailey were acquitted, but Renown's Captain Sawbridge was relieved of command. The Admiralty dissented from the verdict, reinstated Sawbridge, and criticized Bailey for ambiguous signals during the maneuver.
On October 10th 1938, Captain Murray was placed in command of Hood after Captain Sheridan had come down with a bleeding ulcer days beforehand.
In early June 1939, Hood would transport the body of the deceased Edward VIII back to Britain for his funeral.
On August 20th 1939, Hood would begin a patrol in the North Sea escorted by destroyers Daring and Hotspur. On the 24th, Hood would encounter a German task force composed of two battleships, Bismarck and Schleswig-Holstein, and a destroyer.
World War II
On September 13th 1939, HMS Hood was involved the Battle of Heligoland where the Royal Navy Home Fleet attacked a German convoy sinking three destroyers and twelve transport vessels, and damaging a further sixteen transports and the pre-dreadnought Schleswig-Holstein.
Hood would spend the rest of 1939 in dock undergoing a refit that would last until May 1940. Work on Hood would include a new fire control director, anti-flash equipment, torpedo protection, dual purpose guns and the removal of the ship's torpedo tubes.
On June 27th 1940, Hood sank a German merchant raider that had attempted to escape into the Atlantic.
On June 26th 1941, HMS Hood along with HMS Prince of Wales took part in the Battle of Kristiansand where Hood sank KMS Bismarck. After the battle, the Kriegsmarine would spend the next several days attempting to sink the Hood in retaliation only for the Hood to escape them.
On June 14th 1943, Hood along with Repulse and Dunkerque would provide fire support for British marines landing in Southern Indochina.
After World War II, Hood was remain as the flagship of the Royal Navy until 1950 when she was decommissioned and converted into a museum ship moored at HMNB Scapa Flow. Several movies would be made about its exploits including Sink the Hood and The Last Battlecruiser.