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RMS Olympic in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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RMS Olympic



27th October 1914 HMS Audacious lost  

HMS Audacious

HMS Audacious was a King George V-class battleship of the Royal Navy, she was lost to an enemy mine on the 27th of October 1914 off the northern coast of Donegal, Ireland.

She was built by Cammell Laird being laid down in March 1911, launched on 14 September 1912 and Commissioned in August 1913. She had a displacement of 23,400 tonnes, length: 598 ft (182.3 m) with a beam of 89 ft (27.1 m) and a draught of 28 ft (8.5 m) Her propulsion was 18 boilers, 4 Parsons turbines with direct drive, 4 shafts; 27,000 shp (20,100 kW) giving a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) Her Armament consisted of 10 × BL 13.5-inch (343 mm) Mk V guns, 16 × BL 4-inch (102 mm) Mk VII guns , 4 × 3-pounder (47-mm) guns , 3 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes She had an armour belt of 8 to 12 in (203 to 305 mm) with decks: 1 to 4 in (25 to 102 mm) and barbettes: 3 to 10 in (76 to 254 mm) her turrets being 11 in (279 mm)

Audacious had been ordered under the 1910 naval estimates, Audacious was built by Cammell Laird Limited of Birkenhead, Merseyside, England. She was laid down on 23 March 1911 and launched on 14 September 1912. She commissioned into the 1st Division of the 2nd Battle Squadron on 21 October 1913.

At the beginning of the First World War, Audacious was part of the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. On 27 October 1914, the 2nd Battle Squadron – consisting of the 'super-dreadnoughts' King George V, Ajax, Centurion, Audacious, Monarch, Thunderer and Orion – left Lough Swilly to conduct gunnery exercises at Loch na Keal in Ireland. In the middle of a turn, at 08:45, Audacious ran upon a mine laid by the German auxiliary minelayer Berlin off Tory Island. The explosion occurred 16 feet (4.9 m) under the bottom of the ship, approximately 10 feet (3.0 m) forward of the transverse bulkhead at the rear of the port engine room. The port engine room, machine room, X turret shell room and compartments below them flooded immediately, with water spreading more slowly to the central engine room and adjoining spaces.

Captain Cecil F. Dampier, thinking that the ship had been attacked by a submarine, hoisted the submarine warning, and the rest of the squadron steamed away from possible danger. The ship rapidly took on a list of 10-15 degrees to port, which was reduced by counter flooding compartments on the starboard side, so that by 09:45, the list ranged from 1-10 degrees as she rolled in rough seas. At this point, the starboard engine was still operational. The ship could make 9 kn (10 mph; 17 km/h) and Dampier believed that he had a chance of making the 25 mi (40 km) to land and beaching the ship. However, water was still entering the central engine room, probably because of damage to the bottom of the longitudinal bulkhead. At 10:00, the decision was taken to abandon the central engine room, but water was also rising in the starboard engine room, so that engine too was stopped. By 11:00, the central turbine was submerged and the port side deck was dipping under water as the ship rolled to that side.

The light cruiser Liverpool stood by, while Audacious broadcast distress signals by wireless. The Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, Sir John Jellicoe, ordered every available destroyer and tug out to assist, but did not dare send out battleships to tow Audacious because of the apparent submarine threat. Meanwhile, the White Star liner Olympic, elder sister of the infamous Titanic, arrived on the scene. Dampier brought the bow of the ship round to sea and ordered all non-essential crew off, boats from Liverpool and Olympic assisting, so that only 250 men remained by 14:00. At 13:30, the captain of Olympic, Captain Haddock, suggested that his ship attempt to take Audacious in tow. Dampier agreed, and with the assistance of the destroyer Fury, a tow line was passed within 30 minutes. The ships began moving toward Lough Swilly, but Audacious was so unmanageable that the tow line parted. Liverpool and the collier Thornhill attempted to take the battleship in tow, but to no avail. By 16:00, the forward deck was 4 feet (1.2 m) above water, while the stern had no more than 1 foot (0.30 m) clearance.

In the meantime, at 13:08, a message had arrived from the coastguard station at Mulroy that the steamer Manchester Commerce had been mined in the same area the day before. At 16:60, Malin Head reported that the sailing vessel Cardiff had also been mined the previous night. Upon learning this, at 17:00, Jellicoe ordered the pre-dreadnought battleship Exmouth out to attempt to tow Audacious in. In case the ship was saved, he also requested an officer from the Construction Department at the Admiralty, in anticipation of major repairs.

Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, commander of the 1st Battle Squadron, arrived on the scene in the boarding vessel Cambria and took over the rescue operation. With dark approaching, Bayly, Dampier and the remaining men on Audacious were taken off at 19:15. As the quarterdeck flooded, the ship's whaler broke loose and, slithering across the deck, caused further damage to hatches and ventilators, leading to rapid flooding of the stern. At 20:45, with the decks underwater, the ship heeled sharply, paused, and then capsized. The ship floated upside down with the bow raised until 21:00, when an explosion occurred throwing wreckage 300 feet (91 m) into the air, followed by two more. The explosion appeared to come from the area of B magazine and was possibly caused by high-explosive shells falling from their racks and exploding, then igniting the cordite magazine. A piece of armour plate fell on and killed a petty officer on Liverpool, which was 800 yd (730 m) away. This was the only casualty in connection with the sinking.

Aftermath

Jellicoe immediately proposed that the sinking be kept a secret, to which the Board of Admiralty and the British Cabinet agreed, an act open to ridicule later on. For the rest of the war, Audacious' name remained on all public lists of ship movements and activities. Many Americans on board Olympic were beyond British jurisdiction and discussed the sinking. Many photos, and even one moving film, had been taken. By 19 November, the loss of the ship was accepted in Germany. Jellicoe's opposite number in Germany, Reinhard Scheer, wrote after the war, "In the case of the Audacious we can but approve the English attitude of not revealing a weakness to the enemy, because accurate information about the other side's strength has a decisive effect on the decisions taken."

On 14 November 1918, shortly after the war ended, a notice officially announcing the loss appeared in The Times: H.M.S. Audacious. A Delayed Announcement. "The Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement:— H.M.S. Audacious sank after striking a mine off the North Irish coast on October 27, 1914. This was kept secret at the urgent request of the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, and the Press loyally refrained from giving it any publicity. "

A Royal Navy review board judged that a contributory factor in the loss was that Audacious was not at battle stations, with water-tight doors locked and damage control teams ready. Attempts were made to use the engine circulating pumps as additional bilge pumps, but the rapid rise of water prevented this. Although hatches were open at the time of the explosion, it was claimed that all were closed before rising water reached them. Apart from the damage to the bottom of the ship, water was found to have spread through bulkheads because of faulty seals around pipes and valves, broken pipes and hatches which did not close properly. Marlborough, of the subsequent (but fairly similar) Iron Duke class, was torpedoed at Jutland and for a time continued to steam at 17 knots (20 mph; 31 km/h).

The wreck of Audacious was found 24 miles (39 km) north of the Irish coast, and filmed for the television show Deep Wreck Mysteries on the History Channel. The programme featured an investigation of the wreck and the circumstances of its loss by nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney and battleship expert Bill Jurens. The wreck lies upside down on the sea bed, with the starboard propeller shafts bent and rudder detached, but in clear water 17 miles (27 km) north east of Tory island

John Doran


15th July 1917 U-Boat Index - WW1  SM U-103

Type U 57 Shipyard A.G. Weser, Bremen (Werk 254) Ordered 15 Sep 1915 Laid down 8 Aug 1916 Launched 9 Jun 1917 Commissioned 15 Jul 1917

Commanders>
26 Aug 1917 - 12 May 1918 Claus Rücker

Career 5 patrols 26 Aug 1917 - 12 May 1918 II Flotilla

Successes 8 ships sunk with a total of 15,467 tons.
1 ship damaged with a total of 6,042 tons.

  • 12 Sep 1917 U 103 Claus Rücker St. Margaret 943 br
  • 12 Nov 1917 U 103 Claus Rücker Depute Pierre Goujon 4,121 fr
  • 16 Nov 1917 U 103 Claus Rücker Garron Head 1,933 br
  • 26 Jan 1918 U 103 Claus Rücker Cork 1,232 br
  • 29 Jan 1918 U 103 Claus Rücker Glenfruin 3,097 br
  • 17 Mar 1918 U 103 Claus Rücker Cressida 150 br
  • 17 Mar 1918 U 103 Claus Rücker Sea Gull 976 br
  • 18 Mar 1918 U 103 Claus Rücker Grainton (damaged) 6,042 br
  • 20 Mar 1918 U 103 Claus Rücker Kassanga 3,015 br

Fate 12 May 1918 - Rammed by RMS Olympic and sunk at 4916N 0451W. 10 dead, unknown number of survivors.

There was another U 103 in World War Two.
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 12 Apr 1940 and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 5 Jul 1940.

John Doran


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