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  HMS Prince of Wales (53)
Royal Navy
King George V Class Battleship

38000 Tons (Standard)
745' 1" x 740' 1" x 112' 5"
10 × 14" Main Guns
16 × 5.25" dual purpose
48 x 2 pdr (1.5 in) AA
1 x 40 mm AA
8 s 20 mm AA
Aircraft: 4 Walrus

Click For Enlargement
RAN 1941

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December 10, 1941

Ship History
Built by Cammell Laird and Company at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England. Laid down on January 1, 1937. Launched on May 3, 1939.

During the Battle of Britain, Prince of Wales was damaged during August 1940 in the Merseyside Blitz, suffering a near-miss that exploded between her port side, severely buckling and springing her outer plates. Construction was advanced by postponing tests, shortening trials. Commissioned January 19, 1941 with Captain John Leach. The ship was not completed until March 31, 1941.

Wartime Service
The Prince of Wales entered service with HMS Hood to intercept Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. On May 24, she and the Hood fought the two German warships at the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Following the sinking of Hood, Prince of Wales, received seven large-caliber hits, and disengaged under a smokescreen. During the brief battle, she struck Bismarck three times. Prince of Wales joined HMS Suffolk and Norfolk. Gunfire was exchanged with the Bismarck briefly at 0131 hours on May 25. Twelve hours later, Prince Of Wales broke off pursuit due to her fuel running low. She then returned for six weeks of repair.

In early August, the Prince of Wales embarked Winston Churchill as a passenger to Newfoundland for a secret meeting with U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt beginning and resulted in the signing of the "Atlantic Charter". Next, she was assigned to the Mediterranean for convoy escort duty, where she shot down several attacking planes on September 27.

Pacific Service
Assigned to 'Force Z' with HMS Repulse and HMS Electra and HMS Express. On October 25, 1941 she departed for Singapore, to deter Japanese aggression in the Far East, the flagship of the Eastern Fleet.

When Japan commenced hostilities on December 8, 1941 in Malaya, the force steamed northwards to intercept the invasion force, along with HMS Repulse and four destroyers: HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMS Tenedos and HMAS Vampire. Unable to find the force, they were spotted by Japanese submarine I-65 returning to Singapore and shadowed.

Sinking History
On December 10, 1941 while returning to Singapore HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales were attacked by G3M2 Nell and G4M1 Betty bombers.

Early in the attack, the Prince of Wales was disabled by a lucky torpedo hit where the propeller shaft entered the hull, which caused severe flooding, rendered the rudder useless, and cut the power to her 5.25" guns and many pumps. Further electrical failures left parts of the ship in total darkness and added to the difficulties of Prince of Wales damage repair parties as they attempted to counter the flooding. In total, the ship sustained four torpedo and one bomb hit. Several hundred men were killed when the ship sank, including Vice-Admiral Phillips and Captain Leach.

During the attack and sinking, a total of 327 sailors were lost, including Vice-Admiral Phillips and Captain Leach. List of crew killed in action aboard HMS Prince of Wales on December 10, 1941.

The wreck lies nearly upside down on the bottom of 68m / 223'. After the war, Japanese salvage divers searched unsuccessfully for this wreck to salvage materials.

The wreck site was designated as a 'Protected Place' in 2001 under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, just prior to the 60th anniversary of her sinking. The Royal Navy maintains a White Ensign flag on the mast of the Prince of Wales. Also, a British flag attached to a line on a buoy that is tied to a propeller shaft is periodically renewed.

Ship's Bell
The ship's bell was raised in 2002 with the blessing of the Ministry of Defense and The Force Z Survivors Association. It was restored, then presented for permanent display by First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Alan West, KCB DSC ADC to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

HMS Prince of Wales Roll of Honour

Overview Expedition 'Job 74' [PDF 5.6 megs] Survey May 17-27, 2007
Prince of Wales Stern Damage Report [PDF 4.6 megs] by Kevin Denlay
Prince of Wales Hull Indentation Report [PDF 2.3 megs] by Kevin Denlay
Death of a Battleship, 2012 Update [PDF 4 megs] by William H. Garzke, Jr., Robert O. Dulin Jr. and Kevin Denlay (members of the SNAME Marine Forensics Committee), presented at the 2012 Marine Forensics Symposium, Maryland, USA
Thanks to Kevin Denlay for additional information, research and analasys.

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020


68m / 223'

3 33.6 N
104 28.7' E

PDF File
Expedition Job 74

5.6 MB

PDF File
Stern Damage
4.4 MB

PDF File
Hull Indentation
2.3 MB

PDF File
Death of a Battleship
4 MB

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