HMS Prince of Wales

The HMS Prince of Wales was a British King George V class Battleship launched in Jan 1941. Her time in service was brief but eventful- she had barely been launched and still carried civilian advisors aboard when she participated in the chase of the German battleship Bismarck, at one point exchanging fire and scoring 3 hits despite taking 7 herself.

 

She also carried Prime Minister Winston Churchill to a secret meeting with President Roosevelt off of Newfoundland, which later resulted in the Atlantic Charter. She later shot down several Italian planes while on convoy duty in the Mediterranean before sailing to join Force Z with the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and two destroyers, the Electra and Express.

 

Force Z was dispatched to Singapore in late 1941 as a deterrent to Japanese aggression in Asia, but was initially handicapped by the lack of air support after the Indomitable, the aircraft carrier intended to join Force Z, was forced to return to the UK for repairs. However at the time no ship of the line had ever been sunk by aircraft, and air support was not seen as essential. The Prince of Wales herself also faced problems with a number of her systems due to the rush to get her into service, including her surface scanning radar.

 

In Dec 1941 Force Z was dispatched north along the Malaysian coast to intercept a Japanese fleet sent to invade Malaysia. They were spotted and shadowed by a Japanese submarine, then attacked by a squadron of 86 Japanese bombers and torpedo bombers. The Prince of Wales was hit by a lucky torpedo early in the engagement that struck a propellor shaft as it entered the hold, causing massive flooding early in the battle. She was hit by 3 further torpedos and a bomb before she sank, and while several hundred lives were lost, her thicker armor slowed her sinking and allowed more of her crew to escape in comparison to the Repulse.

 

While both the Repulse and the Prince of Wales are world-class dives, the Prince of Wales is sadly less frequently dived due to its greater depth.

Wreck Details
Name: HMS Prince of Wales
Type: British Battleship
Complement: 1,521 crew
Armament: 10 × 14 inch Mk VII guns (2×4, 1×2)
16 × 5.25 inch dual purpose guns (8×2)
48 × 40 mm 2-pounder AA guns (6×8)
8 × 20 mm Oerlikon AA cannon (8×1)
4 Aircraft
Length: 227.1m
Beam: 34.3m
Draught: 8.8m
Tonnage: 43,786 GRT
Propulsion: Steam
Max Speed: 28 knots
Launch Date: Jan-41
Shipyard: Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead
Sinking Date: Dec 1941
Max Depth: 68m to bottom
Min Depth: 38m to keel
Orientation: inverted, lying on the port side of her main deck

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