Author Topic: Navy war graves ( merged )  (Read 24533 times)

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jollyjacktar

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Navy war graves ( merged )
« on: July 30, 2012, 12:06:41 »
Hope they take them up on it.  Good photos at story link.  Kudo's to Mr. Allen   :salute:

Quote
The hunt for HMS Hood's bell: Billionaire offers to fund recovery so that it can be a memorial to 1,415 crew who drowned when warship was sunk by the Bismarck in 1941By Anna Edwards
PUBLISHED: 18:41 GMT, 29 July 2012 | UPDATED: 09:09 GMT, 30 July 2012

A US billionaire has offered to lead an operation to recover the bell of the sunken battle cruiser HMS Hood, which was sunk in 1941 and killed 1,415 men, for free.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said US philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul G Allen has offered his private yacht be used in the search to recover the bell at no cost to it.
HMS Hood, which was a state-of-the-art vessel for its time, is the largest Royal Navy vessel to have been sunk, causing the biggest loss of life suffered by any single British warship.

If recovered successfully, the bell will be used as a touching memorial to the ship which was sunk by the battleship Bismarck in the Denmark Strait on May 24, 1942.
Only three crew members survived.The tycoon's yacht Octopus, equipped with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will be used for the operation, which will be supported by Blue Water Recoveries Ltd, which specialises in the search and investigation of shipwrecks.  In a previous expedition, which did not disturb the wreck, the company discovered and photographed the bell, an MoD spokesman said It is lying on the seabed well away from the parts of the ship's hull, which will not be disturbed by the recovery operation, he added. 

If the recovery mission is successful, the bell will be put on display by the National Museums of the Royal Navy (NMRN), and form a major feature of a new exhibition hall due to open at the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in 2014. HMS Hood was based in Portsmouth.  Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks, president of the HMS Hood Association, whose members include veterans who served on the ship before its final mission, and relatives of those who were lost, said: 'There is no headstone among the flowers for those who perish at sea.

'For those who lost their lives in HMS Hood, the recovery of her bell and its subsequent place of honour in the museum will mean that, well after the remains of Hood have gone, future generations will be able to gaze upon her bell and remember with gratitude and thanks the heroism, courage and personal sacrifice of Hood's ship's company who died in the service of their country.'  Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general NMRN, said: 'It will be an honour and privilege to display the bell from HMS Hood. Our new galleries, opening in April 2014, will recall and commemorate the heroism, duty and sacrifice of the people of the Royal Navy in the 20th and 21st centuries. 'Hood's bell encapsulates the whole of that story as no other single object could.'

The wreck of HMS Hood, which was discovered in 2001, 2,800 metres under the waves, is designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
The Government has licensed the recovery of the bell - as well as providing a memorial, the recovery will prevent it being taken by any illegal operation for personal gain, the MoD spokesman said.  Director of Blue Water Recoveries David Mearns located the wreck of HMS Hood in 2001 and is coordinating the current expedition.  He said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for us to return to the wreck site of Hood with camera and lighting technologies far superior to that available to us 11 years ago.
'Our aim is to conduct a comprehensive, non-intrusive video investigation of the wreckage, which we believe will allow experts to definitively determine what happened to Hood in her final moments before she sank and answer why the loss of life was so great.  'Hopefully the weather and subsea conditions will be right for us to recover Hood's bell so that it is protected beyond doubt and returned to the Royal Navy.'

The sinking of the Hood on May 24 1941 by the German battleship Bismarck managed to shock a nation by then used to war. Only three of its 1,418 crew survived the sinking during the Battle of the Denmark Strait.  The fifth salvo from the Bismarck hit the ship's magazine resulting in a catastrophic explosion, which tore it in half, and it sank in less than three minutes.  The flagship of the fleet was part of a force ordered to engage the Bismarck and her escort cruiser Prinz Eugen off Greenland.  In the days after the sinking, Britain's wartime prime minister Winston Churchill ordered the Bismarck found and sunk.  On May 27, the battleship was finally sunk after several days of attacks by Royal Navy ships and the Royal Air Force.
 
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2180689/Hunt-HMS-Hoods-bell-provide-memorial-ships-1-415-crew-drowned-sunk-Bismark-1941.html#ixzz227dTDjnt

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2012, 12:11:04 »
I disagree.

Sunken warships are, themselves, "hallowed ground" and should be left as is.

There are other, better ways to memorialize those killed in action at sea.

This is, without putting too fine a point on it, nothing more than grave robbing. It may be tied up in a memorial ribbon but it is still plain, simple grave robbing. The UK authorities should know better.
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as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
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jollyjacktar

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2012, 12:27:56 »
The wreck would not be disturbed as the bell is off to the side and already located.  As a Sailor, I agree HOOD is hallowed ground.  However, I would like to see her bell raised and saved for future generations.  The dead will remain where they lay and not be disturbed. 

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2012, 12:34:15 »
The wreck would not be disturbed as the bell is off to the side and already located.  As a Sailor, I agree HOOD is hallowed ground.  However, I would like to see her bell raised and saved for future generations.  The dead will remain where they lay and not be disturbed.

As a former sailor, I would agree with you.  If the HMS Hood Association has given the nod, then I think it's being done right.

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2012, 14:40:30 »
I am afraid I cannot be persuaded. My opinion is that HOOD, all of it, should remain undisturbed for some defined (long) period (200 years? 300?), after which underwater archaeologists from accredited academic institutions should be allowed access. I think that rule should apply to the sites of all Commonwealth ships that were lost in battle. I think it is impossible to do it "right" so soon after the fact.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2012, 15:06:41 »
FWIW:
I believe that a ships bell holds a special place in the hearts of all sailors and as it's not within the wreckage and it will be used as a memorial for the Hood, I agree with the association. Recover it with all the tact and dignity it deserves and mount it in a place of honour to serve as a reminder and memorial where all people have access to it to pay their respects.
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2012, 15:32:53 »
All I'll say is that if it can bring the slightest sense of closure to the families and shipmates, by displaying it, bring it up. Let them touch it and connect a bit more with those they lost.
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jollyjacktar

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2012, 17:01:10 »
FWIW:
I believe that a ships bell holds a special place in the hearts of all sailors and as it's not within the wreckage and it will be used as a memorial for the Hood, I agree with the association. Recover it with all the tact and dignity it deserves and mount it in a place of honour to serve as a reminder and memorial where all people have access to it to pay their respects.
Yes, you've hit it right on the head.  A ship's bell is special, and if I was to pick one part of a ship above all others it is the bell.  The bell is the focal point of the ship, her voice so to speak and much more.  I don't expect you,E.R., as a Soldier to fully appreciate this except to say it's the equivalent for a ship's company to say a Regiment's colours for her troops.  HOOD should be allowed to return to the earth over time, but her bell?  No.  We'll agree to disagree on this one.

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2012, 14:38:48 »
Mr Campbell has more of an appreciation of the gravity of this than any of you can possibly imagine.

And it has nothing to do with what service he was with.

Try googling HMCS LOUISBURG.

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2012, 15:04:34 »
Its just two opinions lads let it go.

Pipe the side for the Mighty Hood!

ER, I googled HMCS LOUISBURG, I just want to say from one sailor to the son (I assume son correct me if I am wrong) of another I appreciate the sacrifice your father made while in command of LOUISBURG.

Pipe the side and half mast the ensign!  :cdn:
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 15:14:53 by Halifax Tar »
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2012, 15:20:07 »
My personal opinion is if I was lost at sea and the bell could be recovered I would want it so,  A empty grave marker is just that, empty. With the bell, something I have touched, cleaned, rang etc would provide a degree of closure for my loved ones. My 2 cents.
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2012, 15:56:59 »
It may seem far fetched but I think it would be pretty neat if they brought the bell up and placed it on a brand new battle cruiser, say the HMS Hood II or something.

I would rather see something like the ships bell used, again, in service and duty than resting in a museum.  I wonder how many of the fallen would want to see the ships bell used again too.
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2012, 16:56:21 »
Correct if I'm wrong, but isn't the modern theory that the HMS Hood was actually sunk by the Prinz Eugen, not the Bismarck??
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2012, 17:04:44 »
Correct if I'm wrong, but isn't the modern theory that the HMS Hood was actually sunk by the Prinz Eugen, not the Bismarck??

Here are seven options.


1) Official Explanation:  The British held two inquiries into the Hood's loss.  The first was quite brief, reporting on 2 June 1941, less than two weeks after the Hood was sunk.  The second was much longer and detailed, taking testimony from 89 witnesses from the Norfolk, 71 from the Prince of Wales, 14 from the Suffolk, 2 from the Hood and from numerous technical experts.  This inquiry reported on 12 September 1941.  Both inquiries concluded that the cause of the Hood's loss was not from the Cordite fire on the boat deck, but from one or two 15 inch shells which pierced through the thin amidships deck armor (or possibly the side belt), set off the four inch magazine which in turn set off the after 15 inch magazine.

2) A 15 inch hit that struck the ship underwater, penetrated under the armor belt and detonated in the aft 15 inch magazine.

3) An 8 inch (20.3 cm) or a 15 inch hit on the boatdeck that started a major fire in the four inch ready-use and UP lockers.  This gangfired down the four inch ammunition hoists, detonated the four inch magazines, which in turn then set off the aft 15 inch magazine.

4) The fire on the boatdeck as above, but it detonated the torpedo storage and that in turn blew the aft 15 inch magazine.  This theory was advanced by the head of the Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Sir Stanley Goodall (who, together with A. L. Attwood, had been in charge of the Hood's design while he was a constructor).   A problem with both this and the previous theory is that the fires on the Boat Deck were reported to be dying down by both the witnesses on the Prince of Wales and by Able Seaman Tilburn, the only Hood survivor from the Boat Deck.  It is possible that a second fire was burning unseen (to outside observers) down in the torpedo body room, but no such report reached the bridge in the four minutes between the time of the first hit and the time of the Hood's destruction.

5) As a result of the lessons the British learned at Jutland - where three British Battlecruisers blew up from German shellfire - the Hood was redesigned while still under construction to increase her armor protection.  This design work was poorly done, resulting in a badly stressed hull.  So, at the Denmark Strait battle, the fire on the boatdeck as above may have set the torpedoes on fire.  This would have created a very hot fire that could have weakened the strength deck, causing stress levels (already critical) to pass the danger point.  The result was that the ship simply broke in half.  As the ship broke up, the fire penetrated into the magazines, which then exploded.

6) Just before leaving on her last voyage, the crew had been working to correct a defect in one of the Hood's magazine hydraulic systems. It was stopping just short of the proper level needed to lift  cartridges into the loading position.  It is unknown if this fault was completely corrected.  This problem, if unrepaired or with the turret crew, in the stress of battle, working without all safety precautions in place, could have caused a cartridge, and instantly thereafter the magazine, to explode.

7) A 15 inch shell struck the belt armor, skidded down the inclined face of the plating, and then exploded in the bilges.  The flash and blast got propagated through the ship's belly into the aft magazine.  This sounds odd, but there was some testing done in the late 1920s that might support the idea.  These showed that inwardly inclined armor may indeed deflect a shell in the manner suggested, with the result that the shell would explode in a very dangerous position - under the armor belt and inside the anti-torpedo protection system.  Apparently, the concerns about this possibility were enough to cause the DNC to abandon inclined armor for the King George V, Lion and Vanguard class battleships.

Nasty point about Theories 3, 4 and 5 is that the damage that sank the Hood would have been inflicted by the Prinz Eugen.  So, ironically, a battlecruiser designed and built to destroy cruisers was instead destroyed by a cruiser.

http://digilander.libero.it/shinano/sitocorazzate/GranBretagna/Hood/history.htm
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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2012, 17:12:59 »
Nice bit of trivia.

Let's try keep the thread on track though shall we?

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2012, 20:02:10 »
It may seem far fetched but I think it would be pretty neat if they brought the bell up and placed it on a brand new battle cruiser, say the HMS Hood II or something.

I would rather see something like the ships bell used, again, in service and duty than resting in a museum.  I wonder how many of the fallen would want to see the ships bell used again too.

Sadly cruisers are going the way of the dodo the last ones built were the Tico's and some Soviet Cold War designs, although the Burkes and Daring classes could be considered cruisers if you want to stretch things.
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Navy war graves ( merged )
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2015, 11:28:21 »
This, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from The Telegraph, is a dreadful thing:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/malaysia/11556924/Wreck-of-HMS-Repulse-rigged-with-scrap-metal-merchants-explosives.html
Quote

Wreck of HMS Repulse 'rigged with scrap metal merchants' explosives'
Divers cut fuses attached to home-made bombs in an effort to protect war grave off Malaysia

By Julian Ryall, Tokyo

8:00AM BST 23 Apr 2015

The wreck of HMS Repulse, sunk in 1941 off Malaysia and classified as a war grave, has been "rigged up with home-made bombs and fuses waiting for detonation", according to a diver who visited the site on Sunday.


HMS Repulse      Photo: GETTY

David Yiu, director of Singapore-based Friendly Waters Seasports Pte., dived on the battlecruiser to place a memorial flag in honour of the 508 men killed when the ship was sunk on December 10, 1941, by bombs and torpedoes dropped by Japanese aircraft.

Despite being a war grave, scrap metal merchants have been illegally plundering the wreck, as well as that of HMS Prince of Wales, which went down just 9 nautical miles away.

"New fuses and cables had been laid all across the hull and tin cans containing explosives were in place", Mr Yiu told The Telegraph. "And they had only been there a short time because there was no marine growth on them."

Mr Yiu and his colleagues cut as many cables as they could find, as well as the scrap metal merchants' mooring ropes.

"It was going on nearby when we were at the site because we heard a loud 'boom' when we were diving", Mr Yiu said. "It was so loud that I thought it had come from the Repulse.

"When we got on the deck, we looked through binoculars towards where the Prince of Wales is, but there were no ships there", he said. "They must have been after some of the other wrecks that are in the area, such as the two Dutch submarines."


Divers inspect wreckage of HMS Repulse

Mr Yiu says the damage being done to the British warships is "hugely disrespectful" to the men who died when they sank, while another concern is the environmental damage the vessels could cause should they leak large amounts of fuel.

"They have already stolen the propellers from the Repulse, they have pretty much blasted all the back section away and when I was last on the Prince of Wales there were huge sheets of metal that had been blown off the hull and were ready for lifting.

"And the wrecks were not leaking oil before because their hulls were intact, but the blasting has damaged the plates and knocked the rivets out, so the oil has started to seep out", he said.
In November, the Malaysian navy impounded a Vietnamese-flagged fishing vessel that was caught with divers in the water on one of the wrecks.


I hope these guys are caught and tried and convicted in Singapore ... where flogging is still a normal punishment for many offences.




Edit: punctuation  :-[  (I've been drummed out of the CIC ~ Committee for an Independent Comma)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 12:30:01 by E.R. Campbell »
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jollyjacktar

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Re: Plundering navy war graves
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2015, 11:55:39 »
Despite our disagreement on saving Hood's Bell from the deep, I agree with you, ER, that this is a shameful thing.

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Re: Plundering navy war graves
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2015, 12:11:36 »
Right there with you ER.

Absolutely shameful.
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Re: Plundering navy war graves
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2015, 07:13:40 »
There is actually a treaty protecting nautical wargraves from salvage. Which, naturally only works if everyone signs it, as the aussies recently found out with HMAS Melbourne IIRC.

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Re: Plundering navy war graves
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2015, 08:53:05 »
There's something very disturbing about grave robbing. As ER has stated maybe a good public caning would encourage others to cease and desist this horrible practice.
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jollyjacktar

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2015, 07:30:36 »
The bell has been raised from the wreck and will be put on public display for all to see.  I know, ER, you're opposed and I respect your views but I don't share them.  I'm pleased that her bell will be a tangible reminder of HOOD and her crew for future generations and not lost forever.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3191677/HMS-Hood-s-bell-lifted-Atlantic-seabed-74-years-sunk-battle-leading-death-1-415-navy-personnel.html

jollyjacktar

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Re: The hunt for HMS Hood's bell
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2016, 13:47:32 »
An update.  The bell has been publically displayed to commemorate her loss 75 years ago.   :salute:

Photos of the ceremony as well as the recovery etc at story link below.

Quote
Remembering HMS Hood: Bell of battlecruiser sunk 75 years ago in Royal Navy's biggest ever disaster retrieved from the seabed by Microsoft founder Paul Allen is formally unveiled by Princess Royal
The bell from HMS Hood has been unveiled by the Princess Royal 75 years after the ship was sunk by the Bismarck
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen had funded expedition to retrieve bell from seabed between Iceland and Greenland
Ceremony watched by descendants of some of 1,415 sailors who died when battleship hit by German vessel in 1941
Only three of Hood's crew survived and it was wish of one of them to recover ship's bell as memorial to shipmates

By Sam Tonkin For Mailonline

Published: 16:43 GMT, 24 May 2016  | Updated: 17:02 GMT, 24 May 2016

The bell from HMS Hood has been unveiled by the Princess Royal to mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Navy's largest loss of life from a single vessel.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen - who funded the expedition to retrieve the bell from the seabed of the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland - attended the event at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where the bell has gone on display.

Anne struck eight bells at midday during the ceremony, held with HMS Victory as a backdrop, watched by descendants of some of the 1,415 sailors who died when the battleship was hit by German vessel Bismarck on May 24 1941.

Mr Allen, 63, told the Press Association: 'It's an incredible way of recognising and remembering the men who gave their lives.

'There are very few things that have this amount of history, it's an amazing object when you see all the inscriptions. I think it's great to have a tangible artefact here, that the families of the men who went down on the ship and the survivors can have an amazing artefact like this so they can come and give remembrance to the amazing sacrifice that those men made that fateful day.'

Patricia Beach, 82, of Beech Hill, Berkshire, was seven when her father Albert Varlow died as an officer aged 44 on HMS Hood.

She said: 'It changed my life. He talked to me a lot and he said he really thought he wasn't going to come back, he knew he was going on a very unsafe boat. He said, 'Look after your mother'.

'I think of him every day, he was a personable person, a great father.'

Commander Keith Evans, 96, from Haslemere, Surrey, the chairman of the HMS Hood Association who served on board in 1938-39, said: 'It's quite emotional. I was lucky not to be there that day, it was a real shock throughout the whole country when it went down.'

James Warrand, from New South Wales, Australia, attended to remember his father, Commander Selwyn Warrand, who died at the age of 37.

He said: 'It's staggering, is all I can say, it's great to see the bell returned here, it's very emotional.'

Derick Collins, from Fareham, Hampshire, lost his father, torpedoman Able Seaman Reginald Collins, 36.

He said: 'It's an emotional day and now generations can see what the Hood was to the nation and the great loss we all suffered, not only us personal families but the nation as a family as well.'

Only three of Hood's crew survived and it was the expressed wish of one of them, Ted Briggs, to recover the ship's bell as a memorial to his shipmates.

After the unveiling, the bell was carried by a Royal Navy guard to Boathouse 5 for the official opening of the exhibition 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War, which marks the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.

Lady Hood launched Hood in 1918 in memory of her late husband Rear Admiral Sir Horace Hood, who was killed in his ship, HMS Invincible, at the Battle of Jutland on May 31 1916.

An inscription on the side of the bell reads: 'In accordance with the wishes of Lady Hood it was presented in memory of her husband to HMS Hood battlecruiser which ship she launched on 22nd August 1918.'

The bell's retrieval nine months ago from a mile and a half below the water's surface was led by a team assembled by Mr Allen and included Blue Water Recoveries.

The expedition was launched from Mr Allen's yacht M/Y Octopus, equipped with a state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was adapted to retrieve the bell.

Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks, president of the Hood Association, whose uncle died on board, said: 'There is no headstone among the flowers for those who perish at sea.

'For the 1,415 officers and men who lost their lives in HMS Hood on 24 May 1941, the recovery of her bell and its subsequent place of honour in the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth will mean that future generations will be able to gaze upon her bell and remember with gratitude and thanks the heroism, courage and personal sacrifice of Hood's ship's company who died in the service of their country.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3607165/Remembering-HMS-Hood-Bell-battlecruiser-sunk-75-years-ago-Royal-Navy-s-biggest-disaster-retrieved-seabed-Microsoft-founder-Paul-Allen-formally-unveiled-Princess-Royal.html#ixzz49b2IcRkg
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Offline FSTO

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Sunken Canadian Warships
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2018, 07:59:16 »

Good on this retired Merchant Mariner to raise awareness on this issue.

http://nationalpost.com/news/sunken-warships-are-the-ultimate-treasure-unless-canada-can-protect-ocean-graves#comments-area

This seems like a simple fix to a potential issue.

Recent reports from Ireland that scuba-diving treasure hunters are pillaging the remains of a First World War shipwreck have brought new urgency to a campaign to designate Canada’s own sunken naval vessels “ocean war graves.”

Led by retired Merchant Navy Captain Paul Bender, 90, the campaign has had little success over the last decade, except to show that when it comes to protecting the final resting places of wartime sailors, Canada is the odd country out.

But as sport diving becomes more advanced and less costly,  nine wartime ships in Canadian waters —  most sunk by German U-boats, others by accident — are increasingly vulnerable to grave robbers. Captain Bender said he has even heard rumours of someone displaying a human skull on their mantlepiece after taking it from an allied shipwreck off the west coast of England.

“It’s gruesome,” he said.

As Captain Bender describes it, “the human remains of the sailors who were not able to escape into lifeboats or onto life rafts may be found not in segregated grave sites, but anywhere within the twisted wreckage of the ship in which they once served, perhaps scattered throughout the ship, perhaps huddled together in one or more compartments with no hope of escape because buckled bulkheads prevent the opening of watertight doors.”


“There is no headstone among the flowers for those who perish at sea,” he said.

War memorials sometimes say these sailors have “no known graves, adds Capt. Bender. “Well, they certainly do, because I’ve got the latitude and longitude position of every one of the Royal Canadian Navy ships that were lost during the Second World War.


HMCS Alberni, circa 1943-1944. National Defence
“So they do have known graves. We know where they are.”

They are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, for example, or off the Gaspé coast, or near Halifax, or on the Grand Banks. In all, including wrecks in British, French, Icelandic and international waters, Capt. Bender says Canada’s wartime ocean shipwrecks are the final resting place for more than 1,200 people.

“For all you and I know at the very moment that we’re talking there could be divers going down there and taking things from them,” he said. Designating these ships graves “would give the government the power to prosecute people who, without authority, attempt to retrieve artifacts from these ships.”

This past summer, for example, when naval researchers led by Paul Allen of Microsoft discovered the wreck of the USS Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea, they knew they were discovering an official war grave, protected by U.S. law from disturbance. That designation governed all aspects of their mission.

In response to Capt. Bender’s inquiries, France has confirmed that the wreck of Canada’s HMCS Athabaskan, which lies off the Brittany coast, is likewise protected from disturbance under French law, with offenders subject to imprisonment.

‘It’s grave robbing’: Treasure hunters suspected to have looted infamous 1915 shipwreck
Sunken Second World War battleship — and grave to more than 300 sailors — has been illegally salvaged
“We can’t do that in Canada because we don’t have any laws,” Capt. Bender said. “If the state doesn’t have any laws, there’s nothing that the state can do if people say ‘Well, to hell with you … I’m gonna do what I want.’”

The U.K. maintains a list of protected and controlled wrecks under a 1986 law, which even includes enemy vessels, such as German U-boats. But the Second World War wrecks of three Canadian corvettes in British waters — the HMCS Alberni, Trentonian and Regina — do not share the same protection.

“They’re all in the same place, friends and enemies. The enemies are protected, the friends are not,” Capt. Bender said.


Ret. Merchant Navy Captain Paul Bender, 90, photographed surrounded by images of ships at his Ottawa home Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Bender is campaigning to designate wartime shipwrecks as “ocean war graves,” a special heritage designation. Darren Brown/National Post
Vice-Admiral Denis Rouleau, a retired naval commander and former Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, has helped in the campaign by briefing the government, but “nobody really wanted to grab his torch.”

He said the three Canadian ships were almost added to Britain’s list last year based on Capt. Bender’s recommendation, but Britain wanted a formal government request. It got as far as the British Defence attaché waiting for the nod from Global Affairs Canada, which never came.

“We never got any further than that,” Vice-Admiral Rouleau said. Capt. Bender was “stopped in his tracks.”

Shipwrecks in general are managed by Transport Canada. As to military wrecks, the Department of National Defence says it plays no role in heritage designation. Parks Canada does, and it administers wrecks within Canadian waters, as well as advising other departments about protecting and managing what a spokesperson called “heritage wrecks.”

There is no cost to have these ships declared as ocean war graves because they are already set up as burial sites

   
There is, however, no Canadian heritage designation specific to “ocean war graves,” and the designations that exist for some wreck sites, such as the Elizabeth and Mary in the St. Lawrence,  or others associated with the war of 1812, are “for commemorative purposes only,” according to Parks Canada.

Bender, 90, joined the Merchant Navy four days before his 16th birthday in 1944. Two weeks later, he was aboard a ship when it hit a mine, although it sunk with no loss of life. He later served on ships crossing the Atlantic, supplying the campaigns in Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavia. After the war, he participated in the British naval blockade of Mandatory Palestine. He has a graduate degree in maritime law, and has served on a delegation to NATO. In 1971, he set up a ferry service between Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands.

“There is no cost to have these ships declared as ocean war graves because they are already set up as burial sites,” he said. “You can’t maintain them. It’s just a matter of recognizing them in the same way as cemeteries.”

More than just a symbolic designation, he said a legal recognition of ocean war graves would “put the loss of sailors on the same plane as the loss of soldiers and airmen.”


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Re: Sunken Canadian Warships
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2018, 10:18:25 »
If only there were a Liberal MP who happened to be a serving naval reservist to champion this issue.
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