HMS Ark Royal (91)
HMS Ark Royal was an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy that served during the Second World War. She was torpedoed on 13 November 1941 by the German submarine U-81 and sank the following day. The wreck was discovered in December 2002 by an American underwater survey company using sonar mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle.
About HMS Ark Royal (91) in brief
HMS Ark Royal was an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy that served during the Second World War. Designed to carry a large number of aircraft, she had two hangar deck levels. She was torpedoed on 13 November 1941 by the German submarine U-81 and sank the following day. Ark Royal featured an enclosed hangar design where the flight deck was the’strength deck’ and was strongly built with. 75in thick Ducol steel plating. The wreck was discovered in December 2002 by an American underwater survey company using sonar mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle, under contract from the BBC for the filming of a documentary about the ship. The ship was designed with a three-layer protection system based upon a void-liquid scheme similar to that used on the King-class battleships, and was fitted with up to a 750-pound warhead to protect against torpedoes. It was the first ship on which the hangars and flight deck were an integral part of the hull, instead of an add-on or part of the superstructure. She served during a period that first saw the extensive use of naval air power; several carrier tactics were developed and refined aboard Ark Royal. Her sinking was the subject of several inquiries, with investigators keen to know how the carrier was lost, in spite of efforts to save the ship and tow her to the naval base at Gibraltar. They found that several design flaws contributed to the loss, which were rectified in new British carriers. The ship would have to turn into wind to launch and recover aircraft, and avoid endangering other ships with the frequent changes in course associated with flight operations.
To break away from accompanying ships, Ark Royal would have three boilers to catch up and catch up with the accompanying ships on completion of a mission. She had six boilers, powered by three geared turbines connected via three propellers 16 feet in diameter, to produce a theoretical speed of 30 knots. She could carry up to 72 aircraft, although the development of larger and heavier aircraft during the carrier’s construction meant that the actual number carried was between 50 and 60. At 800 feet, the flightdeck was 118 feet longer than the keel; the latter dictated by the length of Royal Navy drydocks in Gibraltar and Malta. Due to the twin hangar decks, the flight decks rose to 66 feet above the waterline. The carrier was designed to fit the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty, which included limiting the maximum displacement of an aircraft carriers to 23,000 long tons. The Washington and London Naval treaties had restricted warship tonnage for a number of nations after the end of the Great War and were both to expire by theend of 1936. With a potential naval arms race developing between Britain, Japan and Italy, the British government sought a second treaty, which would limit the size of the carrier to 20,000 tons. Ark Royal could fit this anticipated limit; to conserve weight, armour plating was limited to the belt, engine rooms, and magazines, while welding instead of rivetting 65% of the Hull saved 500 long tons.