Wednesday, October 7, 2009

HMS Repulse

Dive 1
The line was tied off immediately above the Twin 15" Guns of the "B" Barbette, and there was a moderate current running. We followed the line hand over hand to the ships rail then dropped down to the sand at 54m and headed aft towards the forward funnel, the main superstructure and the command & control tower.
View of the main command and control tower that was the focus of our first dive.
We explored up and down the ships central command tower now laying only partially exposed on the sand. The Flag deck, Lower and Upper Bridges and funnel are now either buried by sand or largely obscured by nets. However the Syren deck, and both the 4” and the 15” Gun Director Platforms are clearly recognisable as is the remains of the Spotting Tower and the H.A.C.S.
1936 Plans of the Repulse highlighting the areas we explored.

We turned and swam back down the mast toward the main body of the hull out of the swirling mists of the milky thermocline appeared the distinct shape of one of the ship's nine Mark IX 4 inch low angle 'Triple Guns' two of its three barrels clearly visible the third buried in the sand. This gun was a British medium-velocity naval gun introduced in 1916 as secondary armament on the Renown class Battlecruisers.
One of the Triple Mounted 4" Breach Loading Mark IX Guns.
J pays his respects at the gun.
The same gun in 1941.

This placed us on the Conning Tower deck right beside the forward funnel an area bristling with weaponry. In fact, a few fin kicks to our left brought us to a net shrouded Vickers QF (Quick Firing) 3 pounders - used as anti-torpedo boat weapons.

Addendum: We have recently been reliably informed that what we thought was a Vickers QF is in fact actually one of the optics of one of the 12' Bar and Stroud rangefinders. Many thanks to Andrew F at the Ship Model Forum for this correction.

The breach & Mount of a Vickers 3 Pounder
or a 12' Barr and Stroud Ranger finder shouded in nets.

A vickers QF.

 Barr and Stroud Ranger finder.
1936 Plans showing the location of the weaponry on the Starboard side of the Conning Tower Deck.

Beyond the Triple Gun and further aft we came upon the remains of a large Carley Float, these invertible life-rafts were formed from a length of copper tubing 30-50 cm in diameter bent into an oval ring. The ring was originally surrounded by a buoyant mass of kapok or cork and covered by canvas. The floor of the raft was made from a wood or webbing grating, all now long gone but the copper ring was still clearly recognizable.
The remains of a Carley Float.

Carley Floats stowed aboard HMS Rodney 1940.

A Carley Float in action.

This life-raft had come loose from its stowage location on the Shelter Deck below was resting against one of the ship's three 2 pound Mark VIII pom pom anti-aircraft arrays its eight 40mm barrels clearly recognizable despite the years.
Encrusted Mk VIII Pom-Pom.

These guns were advanced weapons when introduced, but by the outbreak of World War II advances in aircraft would have effectively made it obsolete, but for the introduction of a high velocity round, and new Director designs. It was intended that the curtain of fire it threw up would be sufficient to deter attacking aircraft and it did deter many attacks, but was hampered by an ineffective director.
Mk VIII Pom-Poms on HMS Rodney 1940.

The after action report on the battle of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales judged that the single 40mm Bofors gun, mounted on the quarterdeck, had been a more effective anti-aircraft weapon than the entire battery of multiple pom-pom mounts, as the pom-pom ammunition had deteriorated badly in their ready use lockers, and the Type 282 radar units also failed in the equatorial heat. In the same action, the Commissioned Gunner of HMS Repulse spent the whole action running from one pom-pom mount to another trying to keep them operational due to the faulty ammunition.
From the Pom-Pom we swam onto the Shelter Deck and worked our way stern to look at the sides of the Seaplane Hanger and ascending to the ships rail at the catapult before heading back up and across the hull to the line.
Watch the video of this dive here:

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the life we have today and to my uncle hugh i never new you, but i'm proud of you R.I.P and to all the crew that died on that day god bless .