-H.M.S. Hood Reference Materials-
ADM 156/107: Collision Between H.M. Ships Hood and Renown, 23 January 1935
Updated 05-Mar-2010

This document is a modern transcription of a portion of Admiralty record ADM 156/107. It is a record of the enquiry into the January 1935 collision of battle cruisers Renown and Hood off Spain. This transcription is currently incomplete. We plan on posting the remainder of the document as time permits. The original file is held at the The National Archives at Kew, London. This Crown Copyrighted material is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives.

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From: The Rear-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron, H.M.S. RENOWN at Gibraltar.

Date: 1st February 1935

No. B.C.S. 38/42/1.


Copy to: The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet. (B.C.S.40/42/1).

The finding and minutes of a Court of Inquiry held at Gibraltar on the 28th and 29th January 1935, to investigate the circumstances attending the collision between H.M. Ships HOOD and renown on Wednesday, 23rd January 1935, are forwarded herewith.

2. With reference to King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, article 488, paragraph 11, this report is being forwarded direct in the absence of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, in the West Indies.



1. Findings of Court of Inquiry dated 31st January 1935.

2. Minutes of Court of Inquiry, pages 1 to 46.

3. Memorandum ordering Court of Inquiry, No 11/1 dated 26th January 1935.

4. Report of the Commanding Officer, H.M.S. HOOD, No. 2970/224 date 24th January 1935

5. Report of the Commanding Officer, H.M.S. RENOWN, No. 253 dated 25th January 1935.

6. Letter from the Rear Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron, No.BCS.11/1 dated 25th January 1935.

Subject: H.M.Ships "Hood" and "Renown" - Collision.


Date: 28th February 1935 No 462/3570.

To: The Secretary of the Admiralty.

The finding and Minutes of the "Hood" - "Renown" Court of Enquiry which accompanied Admiralty letter N.L.424/35 of 14th February, 1935, are returned herewith.

2. The reports of the Commanding Officers H.M. Ships "Hood" and "Renown", which were originally included in these papers now form part of the provedings of the respective Courts Martial, with which they will be forwarded.


John D Kelly

Office of the Rear Admiral in Charge,

31st January 1935.

In accordance with the directions contained in your memorandum No.11/1 of 26th January 1935, we have the honour to report that we have held a full and careful investigation into the circumstances attending the collision between H.M.Ships "HOOD"and "RENOWN" which occurred on Wednesday, 23rd January 1935, and we are unanimously of the opinion:-

(i) that the Captain of H.M.S. "RENOWN" was responsible for placing his ship in a dangerous position with respect to H.M.S. "HOOD" at about 1217 having regard to the respective courses and speeds of the two ships at the time.

(ii) That the Captain of H.M.S. "RENOWN" had not sufficient ground on which to assume that the Admiral would alter the course of the squadron to 180° at any definite time.

(iii) That after a collision became likely the Captain of H.M.S. "RENOWN" did not take the correct action to avoid it, or alternatively, took the action which he did take too late to avert a collision.

(iv) That the Captain of H.M.S. "RENOWN" should not have expected H.M.S. "HOOD" to alter course to port and that the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea could not be expected tp apply to H.M.S. "HOOD" in these circumstances, and that the Captain of the latter ship acted as was best in the circumstances of the moment.

(signed) ???

(Signed) ????

(Signed ?A Peters?)

(Signed) ??Austin?
REAR ADMIRAL (President)

2. There being a divergence of opinion between one member of the Court and the remainder on a material point as disclosed by the evidence, the following additional and separate expressions of opinion are submitted in accordance with King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, Article 488 paragraph 11:-

(a) we are further of the opinion that when a dangerous situation was developing, the Rear Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron, hoisted the signal for single line in sufficient time to avoid such danger.

(signed) ???

(Signed) ????

(Signed) ??Austin?
REAR ADMIRAL (President)

(b) I am further of the opinion that, in the absence of any definite instructions the Rear Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron's message timed 1351/22/1/35 as to H.M.S. "RENOWN'S" ultimate station, a signal giving H.M.S. "RENOWN" her station and including H.M.S. "HOOD'S" course and speed should have been made in the early stages of closing, it being inadvisable to direct two heavy ships to close one as another without further definite instructions

(c) Also that the signal to form single line ahead on a course of 254° should have been hoisted earlier when it was observed that H.M.S. "RENOWN" was approaching on such a forward bearing.

(Signed) ??Peters?

To the Rear Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron.

1. Minutes of Evidence
2. Rear Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron's memorandum No. 11/1 dated 25th January 1935, with enclosures.


Captain Tower, "Hood" Page 1, recalled at pages 12, 15, 22, 26, 43.
Captain Sawbridge, "Renown". Page 2, recalled at pages 9, 11, 12, 20, 22, 27, 45.
Lieut.-Comdr. Stitt, "Renown". Page 4 recalled at pages 18, 24, 33
Commander Lees, "Hood". Page 7, recalled at pages 12, 17, 25, 26, 41, 42.
Lieut.-Comdr. Hodgkinson, O.O.W. in "Renown". Page 9, recalled at page 32.
Rear Admiral Bailey Page 20.
Chief Yeoman Carter, "Renown". Page 21, recalled at page 34.
Lieut.Comdr. Murmann, "Hood". Page 22.
Lieutenant Hornell, "Hood" Page 23
Lieutenant Elder, "Hood" O.O.W. Page 27, recalled at page 43.
Petty Officer Lyons, "Hood" Quartermaster Page 27
Captain Watkins, "MACKAY" Page 28
Lieutenant Shelford, "MACKAY" O.O.W. Page 30
Lieut.-Comdr. St. Quintin, S.S.O. "Hood" Page 36
Act. Yeoman of Signals Meech, "Hood" on Flag Deck Page 38
Act. Yeoman of Sigs. Roskilly, "Hood". On duty Page 40
Commander Allen, "Hood" S.O. (O). Page 41
Lieutenant (E) Morrissey, "Renown". Engineer Officer Page 44
Lieutenant (E) Bullen, "Hood". Engineer Officer. Page 46

Note from website editors: First page of evidence not held - will be obtained on a subsequent visit to the PRO

CAPTAIN F.T.B. TOWER, OBE, R.N. Continued.
Q5. Are you aware of any previous arrangements or instructions given that the battle cruisers would be formed in single line by the "Hood" making a turn to port and bringing "Renown" astern?

A. No sir, there was no arrangement to my knowledge. I knew the Admiral's intention was to turn the squadron to 180° at some moment. What that moment was not pre-arranged nor settled at any time before the collision took place

Q6. Was there any talk about it at any previous meeting?

A. Not to me.

Q7. Not to you?

A. No.

Q8. Had there been any meeting of the Admiral and Captains before leaving harbour regarding this matter.

A. Yes, there had. There had been a meeting over the general programme for the passage from Arosa to Gibraltar. There had not been discussion of any particular method of turning the squadron to any particular course.

Q9. Or of re-forming the squadron?

A. No.

Q10. What did you think the intention of the Captain of the "Renown" when he was approaching you after the exercise was over?

A. As I have stated in paragraph 3 of my report, I had no doubt in my mind that "Renown" would adjust her course and speed and be in a position to take station astern of "Hood" in accordance with normal cruising procedure.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q11. Do you wish to make any further statement?

A. I included a tracing with my report to show the relative movements of the two ships and, as a little qualification I wish to make, which I have incorporated in one or two notes which I should like to hand in, that is, in paragraph 7 of my report "Hood" was kept continuously under observation. Reading from these notes, the witness said:- I decided that applies to 1218.5 on the diagram, at which time those orders I had given had taken place. It was at 6 cables when I started to give those orders. Witness handed in, in connection with his report, some amplifying notes, which were inspected by the court to be included with the minutes.

Q12. You state in paragraph 4 that you fully realised that it was the Admiral's intention to turn both ships to 180° at a proper time to bring them in line ahead on that course. What signal made you realise this?

A. I had received his signal 1351 of 22nd January explaining the manoeuvre and my Navigating Officer had been sent for previous to that signal being made by the Squadron Navigating Officer to discuss this and other matters and he returned and reported to me he know of this manoeuvre that had been decided upon.

Q13 Who by

A. In understood the Squadron Navigating Officer who was reporting the Admiral's intentions of how it should be carried out. And that was that we were going to be told of the courses to close on and, when we reached a convenient, appropriate distance, turning signal would be made which would automatically bring the two ships in line ahead steering 180°.

Q14. You received from no higher authority any such instructions?

A. When I received the signal I considered the signal to be in accordance with that explanation which I had been given by my Navigating Officer after his visit. I consider that to tell two ships what courses to steer, which are the two courses for closing the two ships together, to make such as signal as that was in entire support of carrying out the plan that I had explained to me. In all my experience, I have never before been told what course to steer to close any other ship in and the course I was told to steer here was not a course which would bring me into station astern of "Hood". In the second paragraph of my notes I was fully aware of "Hood" steering 254°. When the ships were 1.5 miles apart, "Renown" would have had to alter 60° to port. And, at the commencement, after the Inclination Exercises, it would have been about 10° to alter at once to go to station in close order astern of "Hood". The signal made it perfectly clear to me, my Navigating Officer, my officer of the watch and my Chief Yeoman of Signals (my signal officer) that the thing, which was abundantly clear, was that by orders as placed there, I was not going astern of "Hood". The only alternative would have been, and which would take place in any case of this sort of a ship rejoining the flag, that a signal should be made, a stationing signal, alter course signal, a bearing signal or forming and disposing signal. Any of those were necessary and as none were made "Renown" approached on a steady bearing on a course which must have made been known to the "Hood", it made it certain that the manoeuvre, as explained to my Navigating Officer, and as I understood it from the signal, was definitely in process of being carried out then and now.

Q15. Did you take note that no speed was mentioned on this closing course and that therefore any alteration in your speed would alter the whole problem entirely.

A. I consider a speed of 12 knots is implied throughout that. I do not consider the omission of "12 knots" there has been made to indicate that my speed should be adjusted for any purpose and rejoining certainly does not mean I might form a single line ahead. A further signal is necessary. Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q16. Do you wish to make a statement to the Court on this occurrence?

A. Yes. At the end of the Inclination Exercise I instructed the Officer of the Watch to steer a course of 192° in accordance with the orders of that signal and reported to the Captain.

Q17. At what speed?

A. At 12 knots. I had no doubt at all that there should be any other speed than 12 knots.

Q18. Who ordered the speed of 12 knots?

A. I considered that was the interpretation of the signal and I informed the Captain and he agreed. The Officer of the Watch reported to me that the ships were closing on a constant bearing and I said that was quite correct. In fact I was more that satisfied we were closing on a constant bearing because I felt that, in the flagship, they would appreciate the fact that we were steering 192° without any qualms and understood the manoeuvre was going to be carried out. When the ships were about 2 to 2.5 miles apart I reported to the Captain and he came up on the Compass Platform. I expected that when the ships were between 1 and 2 miles apart that the "Hood" would turn to 180° because we were to the west of a line going through a position in which we had to be at 1300, by previous signal. I did not necessarily expect that the course would be altered to 180° by signal, only for the reason that, at the end of the Inclination Exercise, the only signal made was "Exercise completed". When the ships got to 7 cables apart I realised that was the last time in which "Hood" could turn in order that the manoeuvre could be performed correctly, and just after then the orders were carried to put the wheel to starboard and stop engines. If anything I thought that those orders were premature, and that at that moment I felt there was no emergency whatsoever. I did appreciate the fact that possibly some unaccountable misunderstanding must have been felt on the bridge of the "Hood" and that the situation would therefore be governed by the "Regulations for preventing collisions at sea". I felt that any earlier action would have laid ourselves open to a very severe and justifiable rebuke for lack of confidence in one's senior officers. At 1220 the signal was observed flying in "Hood" to form station astern on a course of 254°. We were, I suppose, at a distance of not more than 2 cables and our engines at that time were going full speed astern. Only then did I appreciate a state of emergency existed. Finally, I should like to say that never did any doubt occur in my mid that the manoeuvre, which had not only been explained to me by the Squadron Navigating Officer, but which seemed to me quite clear from the signal, that that manoeuvre was not going to be carried out as I understood it.

Q19. Did you observe that in this signal 1351, although the speed was mentioned in the opening sentence, it was omitted in the closing part of it - of the rejoining part of it?

A. Yes, I did.

Q20. What did you think of that?

A. The speed was mentioned twice in that signal and it would be redundant to mention it a third time.

Q21. Do you infer that the speed was 12 knots all through?

A. Yes, I do.

Q22. I understand that the omission of any speed for the operation of closing, after the inclination exercise, did not lead you to suppose that any other speed than 12 knots was permissible or desirable?

A. No.

Q23. Can you tell the Court how "Hood" could know in what position at the end of her Inclination Exercise "Renown" would be which would enable her to calculate your definite course without allowing some margin of speed?

A. The whole manoeuvre seemed rather in the nature of a "set-piece". At the end of the average Inclination Exercise in my experience, the bearing between the two ships has not altered very much from what it was at the beginning and therefore at a range of 9 to 10 miles, it would be perfectly safe and sound to assume that the compass bearing between the 2 ships would be approximately the same as at the beginning of the exercise.

Q24. At what time and distance from "Hood" did you consider that "Renown" was getting in danger of collision?

A. At 1219.5, when we were about 2.5 cables apart, when I saw a signal flying from "Hood" "Compass 254".

Q25. Never before?

A. Never before.

Q26. And solely because you were expecting "Hood" to alter to 180°?

A. Because I was expecting "Hood" to alter to 180° and to follow the "Regulations for preventing collision at sea".

Q27. Why did you think "Hood" would follow the "Regulations for preventing collisions at sea" in the course of what you considered was a pre-arranged manoeuvre?

A. I naturally appreciated the first sentence of article 136 of the Signal Manual when the ships were about 6 to 7 cables apart - when I did realise that there must be some misunderstanding on the bridge of the "Hood". It had never occurred to me before that.

Q28. At what time did you report to the Captain that you considered "Renown" was in danger, or did you make any report?

A. I did not make any report. When we were, say, 7 cables apart, at the same time as the Captain spoke, I spoke. We both agreed at once that the situation was dangerous in a way we did not like; when the signal to form at about 1220 was made, we both realised that a dangerous situation had developed, but not before.

Q29. On what date did the Squadron Navigating Officer send for you?

A. On 19th January. Witness withdrew but remained in Court.

"RENOWN", (sic - should read "HOOD") SQUADRON NAVIGATING OFFICER - Called and cautioned.

Q30. It has been stated by Lieutenant Commander Stitt that you sent for him on 19th January and had a certain conversation with reference to the manoeuvre of the inclination exercise that was to be carried out on 23rd January?

A. Yes, sir.

Q31. Will you inform the Court, as far as you know, whether you gave him any instructions on the matter?

A. I had asked Lieutenant Commander Stitt to come over and see me about a different matter. I took the opportunity whilst he was there to give him the gist of the signal which Rear Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron was going to make concerning the exercise. At that time it was merely in draft form. I informed him that after passing Salvova Island we should open out on certain definite courses. We should then turn and, at the conclusion of the exercise, close in the same manner that we had opened. I told him further that I proposed, on closing, to turn. We were proposing to turn to enable "Renown" to fall astern.

Q32. When you say "propose", do you mean that you were going to propose that was to be done, or intended that should be done?

A. No, that I should propose that.

Q33. That was the definite word you used?

A. So far as I recollect.

Q34. Which way did you propose to turn?

A. To port.

Q35. Did you give him reason to suppose that this manoeuvre would definitely be carried out?

A. I do not think I could say I should have left a definite impression in his mind.

Q36. Did he know that you had not already consulted the Chief Staff Officer or the Admiral on this point?

A. Probably not.

Q37 He might have supposed that you had already consulted them?

A. It would have been possible.

Q38 You gave it him as a proposal, not as something that would definitely be done?

A. No, as a proposal. "I propose" were the words I think I said.

Q39. What did you think "Renown" would do as a result of signal 1351 if no further signal was made?

A. I think she would take station on the quarter, ready to fall into line when we turned 180°.

Q40. At what time did you observe that a dangerous situation was arising?

A. About 3 to 4 minutes before the collision.

Q41. As the two ships were closing on a steady bearing, did it not occur to you before that there was some danger unless some action was taken by one or both?

A. At no time did it occur to me that "Renown" would not adjust her speed and drop back. On the planning of the exercise, if we happened to finish the inclination exercise at the bearing on which we started, the courses selected would have automatically brought the ships on a constant bearing.

Q42. Which was the case?

A. Yes.

Q43. In that case, what did you expect "Renown" to do?

A. Drop back.

Q44. You drafted this signal?

A. Yes.

Q45. The court observes you inserted speed for opening out and speed after rejoining when course was 180°, but you put in no speed when rejoining. Why was that?

A. Because it would be impossible to forecast our relative positions at the end of the inclination exercise as both ships are free to alter course and speed as their captains wish.

Q46. It was deliberately omitted so that no speed should be assumed to be ordered in any way?

A. Yes, it was assumed that when we started to close, speed would almost certainly have to be adjusted.

Q47. What speed would you expect "Renown" to think "Hood" would be proceeding?

A. 12 knots as being the only speed which had been signalled up to date on that day, and at the conclusion of the exercise should know we should steer a steady course and I think it would have been a fair assumption that we should proceed at 12 knots which is the customary speed for the squadron.

Q48. In drafting this signal what was your reason for giving "Renown" a definite closing course in preference to a relative position from "Hood" on completion?

A. Solely to quicken the manoeuvre, It would have been equally possible to have informed her of our own course and said "close" but I have seen that form of signal used on many occasions. Usually it is quite satisfactory.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q49. At what time did you take charge of the ship?

A. When we were distant 6 cables.

Q50. Before that time, who was in charge?

A. The Officer of the Watch (Lieutenant Commander Hodgkinson), with the Navigating Officer standing by and myself continuously on the bridge.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q51. State to the Court what happened previous to and up to the collision, and particularly while you were Officer of the Watch of the ship.

A. On the completion of the inclination exercise I altered course in accordance with Rear Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron's signal and in accordance with the Navigating Officer's instructions, to a course of 192°; speed of the ship at that time was 12 knots. I reported to the Captain that I had altered the course of the ship to 192° at a speed of 12 knots and that "Hood" appeared to be steering 254°. At that time "Hood" was bearing 134° and throughout the inclination exercise her bearing had remained within 2 degrees of that. I had been taking note of the bearing of the "Hood" because the Navigating Officer had explained to me the type of manoeuvre which was going to be carried out on completion of the inclination exercise. And, although no steps were taken to maintain the ship on that bearing, I noticed that she did remain so. "Renown" closed the "Hood" on this constant bearing and at about 5 minutes past 12, the captain who had been on the lower bridge, came on to the compass platform. I thought "Hood" was then distant about 3 miles. We continued to close "Hood" on a steady bearing; I was watching the whole time.

Q52. Did you report that you were closing on a steady bearing?

A. Yes, I think the Captain asked me and I reported that we were. When the "Hood" was about 8 cables the Navigating Officer was taking ranges of the "Hood" and, at a certain point, I was told the range was 8 cables.

Q53. What did you do then?

A. Nothing.

Q54. You saw no reason to do anything?

A. No, sir.

Q55. You were still closing on a steady bearing?

A. Yes. When the "Hood" was at 6 cables the Captain asked me what the bearing was doing I replied it was remaining steady. I am not certain whether it was at that moment or a little later that the bearing was growing aft. I reported at that time that "Hood's" bearing was growing aft very slowly but hardly appreciably. Before that, between 6 and 5 cables, the Captain gave the order "Starboard 35", immediately followed by "Stop both." Those orders were repeated by me to the quartermaster and the engine room telegraphs and the wheel put over as ordered. Later, at the time given in the report of the collision, the Captain ordered "Half speed astern both" followed immediately by "Full speed astern both". I do not think the telegraphs ever stopped at "Half speed".

Q56 Were those orders obeyed immediately?

A. Immediately, the helm remaining at "starboard 35".

Q57. Did it ever occur to you that you were getting much too close to the "Hood" while you were Officer of the Watch?

A. It occurred to me that if I had not known from the Navigating Officer of the type of manoeuvre that we were going to carry our I should have been, but knowing the type of manoeuvre, I was not worried as I expected the "Hood" to alter course to port.

Q58. Had there been no mention of this manoeuvre, what would your action have been whilst you were in charge?

A. I was thinking I should have reported to the Captain that the "Hood" was getting too close, or that we were getting too close to the "Hood". No signal had been received from the Admiral as to what we were to do. The Captain was on the bridge at the time.

Q59. When did you consider that you were in a dangerous position?

A. At about 1219, between the time when we stopped and the time we went astern. At that time it appeared the "Hood" could not obey the "Rule of the Road". I think I am not certain of the time. Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q60. It was stated by your Navigating Officer that, on the bridge you expected "Hood" to act in conformity with article 136 of the Signal Manual. At what time did you think "Hood" would do that?

A. When I took action at 6 cables, which was known to "Hood" and again when I took a more drastic action later. I felt convinced that "Hood" would put her wheel over and turn away as a precaution, though, knowing as I did that my action would bring my ship approximately clear of her line of advance. After I had put the wheel to starboard 35 and stopped the Officer of the Watch remarked "Why does not "Hood" obey the 'Rule of the Road'?"

Q61. You said before 1218.5 you still thought "Hood" would turn to 180°. "Hood" was still 6 cables off, you were still, I understand, proceeding at 12 knots?

A. Yes, sir.

Q62. Had you taken into consideration the loss of speed of the "Hood" in turning some 74°?

A. Yes, I had.

Q63. And what speed would you have had to be reduced to?

A. As the "Hood had then, at 6 cables, left the manoeuvre late and I felt sure she would turn with port wheel and sound two blasts on her siren I had made up my mind, if necessary, to hold on to my course 192° or to starboard of it while the "Hood" was making her turn to 180° and I remarked upon the holding of that course at the time to either the Officer of the Watch or my Navigating Officer. I said "We have only 12 degrees to turn and I shall hold on until I see her turn to 180°".

Q64. You did not consider it necessary to reduce speed?

A. I did not consider it necessary to make any alteration other than I did after 6 cables.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q65. What would be your loss of speed in turning to 180°?

A. About 2.5 knots.

Q66. Not more than that?

A. No, not in those very calm conditions.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.

CAPTAIN F.T.B. TOWER, OBE, RN., -Recalled.

Q67. This form of signal 1351 - has it been used previously in the Battle Cruiser Squadron in a similar way?

A. I do not think this particular method, as far as I can remember, has been used during the present commission of "Renown".

Q68. It has been used in the same form of signal in the Battle Cruiser Squadron?

A. Yes.

Witness withdrew and the court adjourned at 1200 for lunch and, pursuant to adjournment, re-assembled at 1315.


Q69. With reference to paragraph 7 of your report, do you wish to amplify it?

A. Paragraph 7 is qualified, as the Court knows, by paragraph 7 of my notes, as it was necessary for the purposes of a diagram to work back from a basic zero time of the collision to my actual decision to take action made at 6 cables distance. Throughout that time I was considering distances and bearings and courses, not seconds or minutes, so when I say that I consider she had ample room and time to carry out the manoeuvre that refers to a distance when I made up my mind of 6 cables. With regard to the 6 cables, up to then I was using my own Stuarts Distance Meter to take the distances of "Hood" quite apart from the repeated reports of distances and bearings I was receiving from my Navigating Officer and / or the Officer of the Watch. I had already fixed in my mind at 6 cables, what was my action point, because I knew that my distance to new course was 3.2 cables. Therefore I knew I had ample margin myself to turn my ship onto "Hood's" course. My distance to the 254° course was 3.2 cables and so I decided to act at 6 cables. This allowed a margin, quite apart from any avoiding action which "Hood" took, and which I knew she would actually take on seeing me commence my action. I actually remarked at the time that my action was premature and might be considered by some panicky, but I knew it was a wise precaution and, as I knew, vide paragraph 3 of my notes that the correct time for "Hood" to alter was at 7 cables I realised that there was no reason whatever at 6 cables of any collision. But O determined to take such action so that, if the other ship did nothing to help, I could still have averted any collision after putting the wheel hard over and stopping my engines. I, in addition, decided to take all way off the ship so that, in the event of any collision taking place, there would not be two great ships moving fast and I knew also that if "Hood" is putting her wheel over, right up, paragraph 4 of my notes, 1219.75. When I knew that she could take avoiding action with her wheel so I also realised that if she went full speed she also would assist to make a very big clearance between the two ships for safety. Also I knew, by going full speed astern both, having steam for 17 knots - which is my standing routine for safety purposes - I knew that I could pull that ship up in something over a cable and this would be assisted, I realised, by the rudder being hard over as it was. When I watched the ship very carefully until she was stopped, having no way upon her, and by my clearing marks which I have on board each end of the ship, I adjudged that the stem of "Renown" would foul somewhere on the quarterdeck of "Hood", and I ordered the Chief Yeoman long before this to watch "Hood's" rudder and he reported just at the time of the collision she had the wheel full over to starboard. That I saw myself. That would have the effect of assisting to throw the stern of "Hood" away. I remarked "She has done that too late" and, as I anticipated, her quarterdeck rubber along "Renown's" stem by about the amount that I judged and damage was done.

Q70. Did you ever consider any other course of action, such as forming astern of the "Hood" on her then course?

A. Yes.

Q71. And what led you to discard that possible course of action?

A. In paragraph 2 of my notes you will see that at 1.5 miles I should have had to make an alteration of no less than 60 degrees in an original turn towards. I knew that the two ships should be proceeding at 12 knots and the object of that I also knew also and so suddenly to have the course deflected at 1.5 miles away clearly showed to me that the place to which I was not bound was astern of the "Hood"; also the fleet was unformed. There was no guide, there was no forming and disposing signal made and the many signals which I referred to earlier in this sitting such as an alter course signal. None of these had been made and the squadron was not formed. I knew that after 1.5 miles for me to form astern of the "Hood was a most drastic manoeuvre after going on a steady bearing on that course ordered - as time went on a manoeuvre very quickly became impossible and the only thing I could do was to turn to starboard as I did and I allowed a margin necessary to clear that line of advance. Furthermore, having no signals made making a guide or anything else, and this manoeuvre had never been made before, it confirmed in my mind that the plan as described to me by my Navigating Officer in interpretation of a signal that the plan was taking place right to the end. I have no doubt about that whatever. Furthermore, because it was taking place, and I knew that it could be so readily carried out right up to 1219.75 she could have cleared. When at 6 cables, I merely thought "Hood" was late and I expected her wheel to go over for this manoeuvre - and it is nothing different to the manoeuvre of a squadron which is taken part in the frequently to turn together on another column in taking up anchor bearings and distances on an approach to a harbour when the first column turns in towards the one maintaining course and speed on which they are forming and, at a very short distance, either an alter course signal is executed or turning flag is hauled down and that column turns up to the position perhaps 2.5 to 3 cables from the other one. Every captain in the first squadron fully realises that if the Admiral has not hauled down the turning flag the squadron will go right into everyone. It happens every day - many manoeuvres are similar - and if one got into a panic whenever a ship had got round about 6 cables, we should have the fleet in a scattery condition. There was everything about this manoeuvre which was perfectly simple and easy to carry out but the only fault in it was there was only one danger that is the same as standing in on the other squadron - no to turn. That was the only danger and, by my action, I removed 99% of it.

Q72. What would have been the effect if you had gone astern with your inside screw in ships of this class?

A. In ships of this class, and also in most ships, on early parts of the turn is practically nil. It assists the manoeuvre very little. I may add that I have carried out many turning trials.

Q73. Can that be supported by the "Data Book"?

A. It is a fact that the turning of the inner screw on a ship such as "Renown" assists you alter course very little. Moreover it was not necessary. The data book was examined by the court and contained no data on this point.

Q74. Can you give the Court any other reason that a reported conversation between your Navigator and the Navigating Commander of "Hood" - any other reason why you should be expecting a plan which had not been given to you personally - either verbally or by signal - which should so certainly have been carried out as you appear to think.

A. Yes, because when a ship is rejoining, it is essential - that the Flag must reform the squadron by a definite signal. And the time to do that with ships of this size would have been 3 miles away. And it was perfectly clear from what had been ordered that the place for me, having no guide incidentally, was not astern of "Hood" on course 254° because we know, and it subsequently happened, that the "Hood" was going to turn to 180°.

Q75. Why do you know that it was not correct for you to be astern of the "Hood" or in some safe place with respect to her?

A. Because, as I have said previously, some signal making a formation disposing of a fleet must be made.

Q76 In the absence of such a signal, what do you feel is your right course in the event of your having instructions to close?

A. That has happened to me on many occasions in the fleet and when, when I am about a mile off, or less, I heave to and usually turn to the course and speed of the ship I am rejoining.

Q77. Why did you not do it in this case?

A. I had no doubt about what the manoeuvre was and I have none now.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q78. Would you explain to the Court if you have any further remarks to make at all as to the action you took from the moment you considered that danger of collision had arisen?

A. Up to zero minus 2 minutes I was still hoping to see "Renown" drop down my starboard side. At zero minus 2 minutes, which I understand is the latest time that the Captain of "Renown" considers I could have taken avoiding action to port, O did in fact order "port 25". Within a minute of that order I realised by eye - it was unnecessary to use instruments - it was impossible if I kept that on my ship to avoid the two ships fouling each other badly. At zero minus one minute I ordered 15 knots, starboard 25, full speed, hard astarboard, as being the only possible chance of avoiding, or anyhow minimising the effect. The result was not to avoid but I believe it minimised it by my stern swinging fast to port and if, as has been stated "Renown" had no way on her, I fail to see how two ships could have hit.

Q79. You have produced two photographs - can you tell the court how they were taken and are there any observations you may wish to make about them?

A. They were taken by Midshipman (name omitted in original document) on the starboard wing of the bridge at the time of the collision. I produced them as showing first, the "Hood's" stern was swinging to port at the time of impact and secondly, that the angle between the two ships at the time of the impact more nearly approached my diagram than "Renown's" and, thirdly - it may, or may not be an optical illusion - from the point of the photograph "Renown" is quite definitely across the original wake of the "Hood".

Q80. Did you, at any time, consider it your duty to act in accordance with the first sentence of article 136 of the Signal Manual?

A. Yes, the question of the "Rule of the Road" was naturally in my mind. I admit, in this case, it was my opinion, a secondary consideration. I regard the "Rules of the Road" as being designed to cope with accidental meetings rather than pre-arranged ones between H.M. Ships. Being utterly unaware of the interpretation which the Captain of the "Renown" had placed on the Admiral's signal, I was expecting, up to the last moment, that he would place his ship on a safe bearing. It was for that reason that I continued the course of the "Hood" without omitting, as I did, to take avoiding action. If I had obeyed the "Rule of the Road" as is clearly laid down I should have had to have put starboard rudder on my ship and pass under "Renown's" stern a mile previously.

Q81. You considered view is that if you had seen the necessity earlier to act in accordance with Article 136 of the Signal Manual, you would have had to go under the stern of the "Renown" and had to alter about a mile before it appeared necessary for you to do anything?

A. That is the correct interpretation of the "Rule of the Road".

Q82. Can you explain the intentions of the Admiral when signal 1351 was drafted?

A. With regard to the interpretation which may have been placed on the Admiral's signal, I, as Chief of Staff, submitted it personally to the Admiral for his approval, after discussion with the Squadron Navigating Officer. If I had believed I was suggesting a "set piece" manoeuvre which would in any way tie the Admiral's hands as to the time at which the signal should be made, I should have represented it to him. No such idea was ever in my mind and, to this moment, I cannot see what objective could possibly have been achieved by any such deliberate arrangement beforehand. As regards the Squadron Navigating Officer's evidence, he intended to propose that the turn should be made so that "Renown" could swing in astern. My idea has always been that she should adjust her bearing on "Hood" as guide so that she would be in a safe position to form astern any time the Admiral might decide to make the signal. There was never, to my knowledge, an intention of passing through any geographical position at 1300 which has been suggested. One reason at least for not turning to 180° before the collision was the presence of trawlers to port of "Hood" which might have embarrassed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla taking up their position as asdic screen in the next exercise. The part of the signal referring to the 180° was the informative to assist a 2nd Destroyer Flotilla and in no way was to be executive as to time.

Q83. Had you discussed with the Admiral any idea of the "Hood" turning up to put "Renown" astern, instead of the normal procedure of "Renown" forming astern of "Hood"?

A. No, it never entered my head.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.

COMMANDER E.V. LEES, R.N. - Recalled

Q84. Had you discussed with the Admiral any suggestion of turning the "Hood" so as to bring "Renown" astern.

A. Not with the Admiral.

Q85. Never with the Admiral.

A. No.

Q86. Nor with the Chief Staff Officer?

A. I had mentioned to the Chief Staff Officer that I hoped we should be able to turn to 180° at a time which would make it an easy manoeuvre for "Renown". We were, as the Chief Staff Officer has said, hampered by trawlers on the port bow which prevented us turning earlier and we were not in any way tied as to the turn and of the emergency submarine area through which we must go. We had given Captain(D) II a rendezvous from which, if we steered 180°, we should have passed down the westerns side of the imaginary channel. As it was afternoon, the sun to the west, it would have been a natural war time manoeuvre for a squadron to cramp the submarines on the sun side as much as possible. Actually, when the question of the turn arose, we were still short of the rendezvous by about a mile, but as the 2nd Flotilla was exactly in close company, there was no necessity to pass exactly through the position given. Subject to traffic, of which there is nearly always some in these waters - it would not have been wise to have turned earlier straight towards the trawlers.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.

CAPTAIN F.T.B. TOWER, OBE, R.N. - Recalled

Q87. Do you agree with that statement?

A. Entirely.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q88. From the moment it became apparent that "Renown" was in a dangerous position, what advice did you give and what did you consider was the natural course to take?

A. At 7 cables I told the Captain that it was the time we were expecting "Hood" to turn for the manoeuvre to be completed correctly and he said "Why does she not turn" but at 6 cables the Captain turned to me and said "I don't like this" and I replied similarly. And he said "Stop both, wheel to starboard 35." About 2 minutes later , when it was obvious that the "Hood" was not going to turn to port, I think I said "Astern" at the same time as he actually gave the order "Half speed astern" and that, as the Court knows, was immediately followed by "Full astern" and after that there was nothing more we could do.

Q89. Did you ever consider turning and that it would be wise to go astern of the "Hood" as nothing apparently was happening?

A. No, sir, the mere fact that nothing happened and no signal was made, confirmed my interpretation of the signal.

Q90 You heard earlier what Commander Lees said of his conversation with you. Have you any statement to make on this?

A. I confirm everything that Commander Lees said that he told me - that he used the word "propose" - that this action should take place and that we would receive a signal. Naturally I informed the Captain that this was the proposed manoeuvre and, when the signal came through, it, to us, only had one interpretation. If we were supposed to do anything else other that what we imagined we were to do, it would not have told us to steer a definite course?

Q91. Why not?

A. If we are told to steer a definite course we are told to steer a definite course for some reason.

Q92. Yes, but you have not been given a definite speed?

A. I understood from the signal it would be 12 knots.

Q93. Why?

A. I definitely thought we had to steer that course for the purpose of carrying out the manoeuvre of the ships turning to ° on rejoining. Subsequent action, or the lack of further signals, confirmed that impression, firstly, because we were going in on a constant bearing it must have been observed in "Hood" that we were steering 192° at 12 knots. It must also have been appreciated that if we were still on that constant bearing at a mile or a mile and a half away that we could not have performed the manoeuvre of taking station astern. That if they objected to our action we would have got a signal telling us to take station astern on that course. As I said before, what gave me so much satisfaction was the fact that the bearing was remaining constant. Because for the reason they would be able to know what we were doing.

Q94. It has been stated that, at the time of the collision, "Renown" had no way on her. Can you support that?

A. I say practically no way.

Q95. Did you observe whether the "Renown's" bow crossed or got into the "Hood's" wake?

A. No, sir.

Q96. You could not see it from the Compass Platform?

A. I suppose it must have got in the "Hood's" wake if we hit the stern.

Q97. Yet it need not if "Hood" was going astern?

A. I think we assisted the "Hood" to turn to starboard and that therefore our bow must have appeared to have been in the wake of the "Hood" - but it was not a point that I took particular note of at the time.

Q98 I think you stated that, when at 1.5 miles, you could not have taken station astern. I presume you mean by keeping a speed of 12 knots? Would it not have been possible to take station astern by keeping a steady course but reducing your speed?

A. Yes, sir, certainly, we could have stopped and come down here (witness indicated what he meant on the chart) and we would not have finished up in station.

Q99. But would it not have been possible to reduce your speed to that speed which would have brought "Renown" into station astern?

A. Yes, sir, it would have, but if the "Hood" had turned to 180° when we expected her to do so, then we would have found ourselves a long way astern. I knew that the object of closing the two ships in this way was to hasten the manoeuvre.

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.


Q100. You stated there was no guide of the fleet - I see that the guide of the fleet is the Admiral unless otherwise ordered. Do you still maintain there was no guide of the fleet?

A. No, coming in from being detached, there was no guide in the manner of forming. The fleet had yet to be formed up and a signal was necessary.

Q101. Was not the flagship present?

A. Yes, after we rejoined.

Q102. From 12 knots, if you put your engines at full speed astern, what is your estimate of the advance before the way is taken of the ship?

A. Actually, from 12 knots, of one puts the engines straight over to full speed astern, I estimate that it would be a bit over 2 cables. In this case the engines had been stopped for about a minute or more before we went astern and the wheel had been out hard to starboard and taken a good deal of way off the ship, and the speed when we put the engines astern, was not more than 7 knots, and therefore full speed astern, the ship would lose her way in just over a cable.


Q103. During the approach of "Renown" did you consider the desirability of giving "Renown" station was necessary?

A. I had thought of doing so and then decided that it was not necessary since the order he received in my signal was close to and then, in the last sentence of the signal, it was implied that he was to rejoin. I assumed (having no knowledge that he expected a set-piece manoeuvre) that it would be clear to him that he was expected to form in the position he had vacated in single line ahead, or failing that, to maintain his ship on a safe bearing. The present course of the flagship and her projected course were known to him, and there was no obstacle to prevent his doing so.

Q104. What was the object of your signal ay 1220 to form single line?

A. After watching "Renown", expecting her momentarily to drop abaft the beam of the flagship and I finally made that signal to endeavour to force the captain to take some action. Witness withdrew.

CAPTAIN H.R. SAWBRIDGE, OBE, R.B.(sic) - Recalled.

Q105. Would you like to call any further witnesses?

A. Yes, I should like to call my Chief Yeoman of Signals.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q106. Were you on the bridge of the "Renown" at the time of the collision?

A. Yes, sir.

Q107. Can you throw any light on the causes of the collision?

A. No, sir, except the fact that the "Renown" was expecting a signal to assume some formation. That signal did not come.

Q108. Why should she have expected a signal?

A. Because the signal on the previous day, the 1351 from A.C.Q. rather led us to believe that a signal would be made. It said "Hood" and "Renown" would close on course 254° and 192° respectively and the course after rejoining would be 180°.

Q109. When did you expect to get the signal?

A. In ample time to get into some formation when the ships were about 2 to 3 miles apart, so there had been no possible risk of collision.

Q110. Will you give your idea of the meaning of signal 1351?

A. On passing through the position stated, 2 miles 148°, Salvova Island, the two ships would open out on diverging courses, the "Hood" on 192° and "Renown" on 254, when inclination exercises would be carried out. On completion of the inclination exercise, in the signal being received "Inclination exercises completed" the two ships would close, "Hood" on 254° and the "Renown" on 192°, the speed throughout being 12 knots.

Q111. Why do you say "throughout"?

A. Except during the inclination exercise when speed could be altered.

Q112. Why, in your opinion, should the speed of 12 knots be necessarily applied to both ships when it is not mentioned?

A. 12 knots is mentioned. When the ships opened out on their diverging courses - and there is no reason to assume that, on the completion of the inclination exercise any other speed should be assumed.

Witness continuing - There is no reason why any other speed should be assumed according to that signal - that signal leaves the question open as to what speed should be assumed. I believe if another speed was intended it would have been stated in the signal.

Witness withdrew.


Q113. Have you any reason to suppose that your engines and your helm did not obey your orders exactly as you wished them to do?

A. I know that they did so properly.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q114. Are you quite satisfied with the way in which your engines and helm worked during this period?

A. Yes.

Q115. Have you examined your Engine Room Register to satisfy yourself that all orders were obeyed promptly and correctly?

A. Yes.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


- Recalled.

Q116. Have you examined your Engine Room Register to satisfy yourself that all orders were obeyed promptly and correctly?

A. Yes.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q117. The court understands that you were a witness of the contact between the "Renown" and "Hood" - is that so?

A. Yes.

Q118. Will you tell us what you saw?

A. I was standing in the starboard lobby outside the Commander's cabin and I saw "Renown" hit us abreast "Y" turret. The stern was swinging to port and "Renown" appeared to strike us at right angles.

Q119. You are sure that the stern of "Hood" was swinging to port before contact was made?

A. Yes, sir.

Q120. Were you judging by the wake you could see?

A. I was judging more particularly by the fact that H.M.S. "Mackay" was not astern at the time. We were in line ahead and she had been astern of us and was not in line then. She was to starboard.

Q121. Had you any other way of judging?

A. I could not see the wake clearly - to be certain enough - because "Renown" was between. I was convinced from that that we were swinging to port.

Q122. You did not watch it against the sky line?

A. No, sir, it did not enter my head to watch it particularly.

Q123. Did you go aft immediately after the collision?

A. Yes, immediately after the collision.

Q124. Did "Renown" appear to have way on her?

A. At the moment of striking yes.

Q125. Did her stem actually get into the wake of "Hood"?

A. I could not give a definite answer to that.

Witness withdrew.

LIEUTENANT D.A.H. HORNELL, RN OF H.M.S. "HOOD" - Called and cautioned.

Q126. Did you witness the contact of the "Renown" and "Hood"?

A. Yes, sir.

Q127. Where were you?

A. The after end of the starboard lobby.

Q128. What did you see?

A. As I reached there the stem of the "Renown" was just passing when I was at an angle of, I should think, 120°. When I first arrived I thought she was going to hit us where I was; then, for a short time, I thought she was going to miss us - our stern was swinging to port.

Q129. How did you judge you were swinging?

A. It quite apparently was. I am not sure how I judged it. When I arrived "Renown" appeared to be just about to hit us. Then there was a definite period when I thought she would not and our stern was swinging to port.

Q130. Did she only hit once?

A. It was a scrape.

Q131. Did you run aft?

A. After the collision yes, I went below.

Q132. Did you see if the stem of the "Renown" crossed the wake or got into the wake of "Hood"?

A. I did not at the time notice it but my impression now is that it definitely did not.

Q133. Did "Renown" appear to have any way on her?

A. She must have had as our stern was swinging to port and she closed us.

Witness withdrew.


Q134. Have you anything to add to your previous statement?

A. Yes, sir, I have. I feel I realised at the time that we were told to steer a definite course for a very definite reason. If that reason had been for us to form astern of the "Hood" the we would not have been given a definite course to steer entirely different to the one we would have steer if we were going to form a definite manoeuvre which had been explained to me by the Squadron Navigating Officer as his proposal that was going to be. And it was therefore essential to help the manoeuvre that we should continue steering this course. He had explained to me that when the ships were a mile or so apart then "Hood" would turn to 180°. He explained also that it was possible that the "Hood" might turn even earlier, depending on circumstances, but thought the two ships were going to be ordered to close on this course and that, before we closed to hit, that "Hood" would turn to 180°.

Q135. I understand that this was put to you as what was proposed, but not as an approved manoeuvre. Do you agree?

A. Yes, sir.

Q136. A proposed manoeuvre, not an approved one?

A. Yes, which would be confirmed by signal - and that was the signal.

Q137. Was it ever confirmed by signal?

A. I consider it was confirmed in the 1351 signal.

Q138. What part of that signal confirms it?

A. Two parts - first, telling us to steer a definite course - secondly adding at the end to [gap in text] ( one of any column's? (sic) course on rejoining,) after rejoining would be altered to 180°. I considered rejoining with ships of this size is when they are about 1.5 miles apart.

Q139. At 1.5 miles I understand you could have assumed line ahead on any course - on the course the "Hood" was steering?

A. Yes, sir but I expected that, within a very short time, if we had hauled out - in a short time "Hood" would have altered to 180° and then we would not have been in line ahead.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q140. It would appear from the evidence given that the impression you left on Lieutenant Commander Stitt's mind was that this was almost more than a proposal, and which certainly received approval?

A. That was certainly not the intention I meant to leave him with. The conversation took place in the Wardroom Anteroom, subsequently to dealing with an entirely different matter and it was not worked out in detail with a chart between us. It was merely discussed in a friendly manner and I endeavoured to give him, as I thought, a forecast of probable sequence of events.

Q141. Do you think he laid too much stress on what you told him?

A. From the evidence I have heard I do. I certainly had no intention of giving such a strong impression.

Q142. Did you ever mention that the Admiral intended to do anything like that.

A. No.

Q143. Or that the Chief Staff Officer intended anything like that?

A. No, I think I made it quite clear that the signal would come out in due course and what we had drawn up as the proposal was the gist of that signal, and I think I made it clear at the time it was still awaiting the Admiral's support.

Q144. Do you consider that signal involved carrying out your proposal?

A. Not at any exact point or time. Had the waters been entirely clear, it would have been perfectly feasible to turn up in the manner in which the Navigation Officer of "Renown" thought.

Q145. Did it cross your mind some signal should be made?

A. Not in the slightest.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q146. Did it ever cross your mind at any time to ask the Admiral to make a signal to "Renown", or to make some signal on your own to "Renown" asking her what she was doing?

A. No, if anything, the other way about. There was a moment, which I cannot translate into distance, at which the Admiral said to me from his bridge "Do you think we ought to make anything to the "Renown"?" and my reply was "No, sir, I think she is all right at present."

Q147. You do not know when that was?

A. No, but it was certainly at some period in which I had no alarm and had no reason to think anyone else had.

Q148. Can you tell the court what your ship's head was at the moment of impact?

A. I cannot be accurate, but we finally finished up very nearly north.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q149. Can you tell the court what your ship's head was at the moment of impact?

A. I an afraid I did not notice at the time. My impression is that it must have been about 280° and 290°.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q150. Can you tell the court what your ship's head was at the moment of impact?

A. I am not absolutely certain about it an I enquired of the Officer of the Watch, and it was not specifically recorded, but I judge we had turned to about 230°, that is approximately a 40° turn.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.

LIEUTENANT W.G.C. ELDER, RN OF H.M.S. "HOOD" - Called and cautioned.

Q151. Were you the Officer of the Watch on board "Hood" at the time when the collision occurred?

A. Yes, sir.

Q152. Did you notice the ship's head at the time?

A. I did not.

Witness withdrew.

PETTY OFFICER JOHN W. LYONS, O.N. P/J. 19640, OF H.M.S. "HOOD" - Called and cautioned.

Q153. Were you Quartermaster of the Watch on board "Hood" at the time the collision occurred?

A. Yes, sir.

Q154. Do you remember what the ship's head was when the impact took place?

A. No, sir.

Q156. Can you give it approximately?

A. No, I am afraid I cannot. We had 35° hard astarboard at the time.

Q157. Do you know if your helmsman can give any information?

A. No, sir.

Q158. He was not at the wheel?

A. No, I was on the wheel myself.

Q159. You were not in a position to see at all?

A. No.

Witness withdrew and court closed at 1530.

As a result of further deliberations by the court on the morning of 29th January, it was decided to re-open the court on that day at 1330.

The court therefore re-opened on 29th January at 1330, the Commanding Officer and Squadron Navigating Officer of "Hood" and the Captain, Navigating Officer and Officer of the Watch of "Renown" being present throughout the whole proceedings.


Q160. Did you observe the collision between "Renown" and "Hood" on 23rd January.

A. Yes.

Q161. What was your position at the time?

A. I was in station astern of "Hood", 6.5 cables as ordered by Rear Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron.

Q162. Will you give an account of what you saw?

A. At about noon, I observed that "Renown" was apparently rejoining after exercises and coming into line. At about 1219 I ascertained "Mackay" was exactly in station and ordered the distance from "Hood" to be increased to 7 cables. We reduced 6 revolutions at 1219.5. I mention revolutions as it has enabled me to obtain a time from the engine room clock corrected by the deck watch.

Q163. What was the time of 1219 taken by?

A. The revolutions log, engine room register and engine room clock corrected by the deck watch. "Renown" was then about 5 cables from "Hood", steering roughly before her beam at about 80° to our course. I did not note her helm indicator as I was watching "Hood". "Hood" was then seen to be altering course to port and "Renown" blew three short blasts on her siren. She was then about 1.5 cables from "Hood" and about 60° off "Hood's" course.

Q164. Inwards?

A. Yes, inwards. "Hood" then reverse her wheel and was swinging to starboard at the moment of the impact, which was 1222 by deck watch.

Q165. When you say "deck watch", do you mean corrected to G.M.T?

A. Yes.

Q166. Go on

A. It is my opinion that "Renown" was swinging to starboard at the moment of impact. Pendant 1A Compass QN was hoisted at "Hood's" masthead with Squadron Flag superior shortly before the collision. G12 was hoisted at the same time at the yard arm. As this signal was not addressed to "Mackay" it was not answered or logged, but it was estimated to be approximately 1218.5

Q167. You said the estimated time of the executive of the signal of the signal of pendant 1A QN was hauled down at 1218.5.

A. I estimated that.

Q168. How did you arrive at that estimated time?

A. I was going on to the Compass Platform which was 1219 and my Yeoman was coming down to report the executive when he saw my head and shoulders coming up to the platform, so I thought approximately half a minute before the executive must have been made before I appeared.

Q169. Can you say how long the signal was flying?

A. No.

Q170. Who was on the bridge with you at the time?

A. The Officer of the Watch - Lieutenant Shelford - and the navigator - Lieutenant Hudson. I have brought Lieutenant Shelford with me; the Navigator was on and off the platform but Lieutenant Shelford was there all the time.

Q171. How long did you see it flying?

A. I did not see the signal at all.

Q172. How did you estimate the distances between "Renown" and "Hood?"

A. A rough estimate by eye. It is only my opinion.

Q173. You had no bearings to support it?

A. No.

Q174. At what time did "Renown" blow three short blasts by your estimate?

A. I should not like to say the exact time, but it was shortly after I had observed "Hood" to be altering course to port.

Q175. Was that before or after the signal was hauled down.

A. After the signal was hauled down, just before I came on to the Compass Platform.

Captain Sawbridge stated he would like to hear the witnesses observations with regard to the line of advance of "Hood".

Q176. Have you any further information you can give?

A. I think I should not make any further statement as I have been thinking it over a very great deal since the event and what I have said were my original ideas at the moment and I might give and incorrect statement to what I had originally intended. I think it would not be fair for me. I can only give an opinion. I have nothing logged at the time.

Q177. With regard to what you have told us you are convinced of the facts as you know them.

A. Yes, as far as I known them. I ordered my Officer of the Watch to go down to his cabin and put down what he saw and the times while they were fresh in his mind in case he should be required, and I did the same myself.

Q178. Did the "Renown" apparently cross the track of "Hood" after the impact?

A. I am unable to say for certain but I should say no.

Q179. Were you in a position to see if she had crossed?

A. Yes, sir, but I did not look especially to see. I was watching to see what the result would be so that I could take action quickly if required.

Witness withdrew.

LIEUTENANT W.O. SHELFORD, RN OF H.M.S. "MACKAY" - Called and cautioned.

Q180. Were you Officer of the Watch in "Mackay" on the afternoon of 23rd January?

A. Yes, sir.

Q181. Did you observe the collision between "Hood" and "Renown"?

A. Yes.

Q182. What was your position at the time?

A. We were 6.5 cables astern of the "Hood."

Q183. Will you give an account of what you saw?

A. The first intimation I had of anything being wrong was that I saw "Hood" beginning to swing to port. We then saw "Renown" blowing three blasts and going astern. I cannot give and idea of the time, but watching it, I noticed the "Hood" stop swinging to port and swinging to starboard and I suppose it was only a few seconds after that that "Renown" and "hood" came into collision.

Q184. Did you see any signal hoisted by "Hood"?

A. I saw a signal flying and it was reported to me by our Yeoman.

Q185. At what time was it hoisted?

A. I cannot say - it was not addressed to us.

Q186. Did you see it hauled down?

A. No, I did not. It was not reported to me when hauled down either.

Q187. How long do you estimate "Hood" was under port rudder?

A. I should say less than half a minute.

Q188. And the reverse?

A. About the same time.

Q189. Did you observe if the "Renown", after the collision, crossed the wake, or was in the wake, of "Hood".

A. I should say she was in the wake.

Q190. Can you be certain of that?

A. Not very, no. We altered course hard a-starboard immediately after the collision.

Q191. Did you estimate at all what was the distance between "Hood" and "Renown" when "Renown" blew three blasts?

A. I estimated it one cable.

Q192. One cable?

A. Yes.

Q193. That is by eye?

A. Only by eye.

Q194. Was the signal flying in the "Hood" when you heard "Renown" sound three short blasts?

A. I cannot be sure of that. Our captain came on the Compass Platform and spoke to me just about that time, or before that time actually, and, as I have said, the signal was not reported as hauled down to me and I did not see it myself when hauled down.

Q195. But was the report made to you that it was flying before or after "Renown" sounded three short blasts?

A. Before.

Q196. Can you tell the Court if "Renown", after the collision appeared to be across that portion of the wake of the "Hood" which would have been left when she was steering a course of 254° - in other words she put her wheel either to port or later starboard?

A. I do not remember.

Witness withdrew.


Q197. Did you see the signal "Form single line ahead on course 254°" hoisted in "Hood"?

A. Yes, sir.

Q198. While it was going up?

A. I am not absolutely sure - I think I did.

Q199. At what time was that?

A. It is difficult to say.

Q200. Did you hear any signal reported to the Captain?

A. Yes.

Q201. What were the engines doing at that time?

A. I do not remember at this moment.

Q202. Did you hear the executive reported to the captain?

A. Yes.

Q203. What were the engines doing at that time?

A. As far as I remember going full speed astern.

Q204. Were you using cones?

A. No.

Q205. Was a sound signal made when the engines were put astern?

A. Yes.

Q206. Can you remember if the engines were put to half speed astern first before putting then to full speed astern?

A. Half speed astern for a matter of a few seconds on the telegraphs.

Q207. Was the sound signal made when the telegraphs were put to half speed astern?

A. There was no time - there were only a few seconds and I repeated the order and then "Full speed aster" and the captain gave the order "Sound three short blasts".

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q208. Did you see the signal "Form single line ahead" hoisted in the "Hood"?

A. Yes.

Q209. Did you see it actually go up?

A. Yes and I said at the time that must be the compass signal to alter course to 180°. I did not read the flags. That was at 1219.

Q210. What were your engines doing at the time?

A. At the time the engines were stopped when the signal went up.

Q211. Was any action taken on the signal?

A. As soon as the signal was reported engines were put astern.

Q212. Was that as a result of the signal?

A. I should say that was a combination of the signal and of the circumstances.

Q213. Was a sound signal made when the engines were put astern?

A. When out full astern.

Q214. What time had elapsed between the time the engines were put to half and full speed astern?

A. I should say 10 to 15 seconds.

Q215. You say the executive was made at 1219?

A. No, the executive was made at 1220. It was hoisted at 1219.

Q216. You saw it going up?

A. Yes.

Q217. Did you actually take the time?

A. No, but I said to my Yeoman "Have that time carefully noted" and I also turned to my Midshipman who had the watch and said "Note it."

Witness withdrew but remained in Court.

The Court examined the Signal Logs of "Hood" and "Renown" and came to the conclusion there were certain discrepancies in the times recorded which gave no reliable estimate of synchronisation of the clocks in the two ships.

[Manuscript entry]: The Court after examining Hood's Signal Log found no copy of signal for Single Line inserted.

Captain Tower informed the Court that he would produce a copy of the signal.


Q218. What time was the signal "Form single line ahead on course 254° observed flying in "Hood"?

A. At 1219.5.

("Renown's" Signal Log handed to witness).

Q219. Who took this time?

A. The Yeoman of the Watch, Yeoman of Signals Little.

Q220. And by what clock?

A. The clock on the flag deck.

Q221. Was this signal seen going up?

A. It was by myself on the Compass Platform and it was answered from the flag deck immediately.

Q222. When you said at 1219.5 the signal was observed flying, was that when it was run up or after it was mast-headed?

A. The Yeoman took the time when the signal was close up and I personally saw the signal going up.

Q223. When was it reported to the Captain?

A. At once.

Q224. When it was going up?

A. When the signal had reached themast-head and I had the purport of the signal. It took just that fraction of time to verify that "QN" was 254° and then the signal was reported to the captain, navigating officer and Officer of the Watch.

Q225. On the receipt of this signal did you hear the Captain give any orders?

A. No, sir.

Q226. Had he given any orders to the Engine Room before you reported this signal?

A. Yes.

The witness referred to notes and asked that the previous reply should be deleted and replied -

A. No, sir.

Q227. What order was given after you reported the signal?

A. A half minute after the signal came down the Captain gave the order "Half speed astern both" followed immediately by "Full speed astern both".

Q228. How did you estimate your half a minute?

A. Merely by mental calculations.

Q229. Had you heard the Captain give an order to stop both before this signal went up?

A. Yes sir - but I am sorry again. At 1218, when the ships were about 0.75 mile apart the Captain gave orders "Stop both and wheel to starboard 35°".

Q230. How long before was this?

A. At 1218.

Q231. How did you take that time?

A. Merely by mental calculation.

Q232. Do you mean calculating back from the log time of the signal?

A. Yes.

Q233. Do you know if your clock was checked by the deck watch?

A. The clock on the flag deck was synchronised with the clock in the Main W/T Office and with the clock in the Signal Distributing Office at approximately 1040.

Witness withdrew.


Q234. Were you on the flag deck before the signal forming single line ahead was hoisted?

A. Yes.

Q235. What time was the signal to form single line ahead on a course of 254° hoisted?

A. I do not know.

Q236. The Court had here what purports to be the original signal made out by yourself?

A. That is not my writing. It was made out on the flag deck after the signal was hauled down and, as far as I know, that is the original that went into the office from the flag deck.

Q237. We are unable to find a copy of the signal and its time of dispatch in the signal log?

A. This is the one which should be there. I sent for it immediately the thing happened.

Q238. The time of dispatch on that is logged as what?

A. 1223.

Q239. By what clock?

A. The clock in the Signal Distributing Office.

Q240. When was the time of that clock checked?

A. At about 8.20 and again at 1224.5.

Q241. Checked by what?

A. The W/T Office clock which had been checked at 0758 by timing signal.

Q242. Can you tell is what this chit is?

A. That is the chit sent down to the Signal Distributing Office to ask what time the collision occurred and this was the chit that was sent back to me, the Yeoman of the Watch having gone and looked at the clock he moment the ship struck.

Q243. So that the same clock has recorded the signal hauling down?

A. Yes.

Q244. What time does it say the collision occurred?

A. 1224.5.

Q245. Then the time in the Captain's report being 1222, an I right in supposing that the signal clock was 2.5 minutes in advance of that.

A. As far as I know.

Q. 246. Can you be positive that those times are correct by that clock?

A. The Yeoman of the Watch will say they are.

Q247. Was this signal made by any other method than flags?

A. No.

Q248. Was it answered immediately?

A. At the dip very soon, close up about 0.75 minute I should say.

Q249. Did you hear "Renown" making a sound signal when she went astern

A. Yes.

Q250. Was this before or after the signal was hoisted?

A. It was after it was hoisted.

Q252. Was it before or after the executive?

A. I am not sure.

Witness withdrew.

ACTING YEOMAN OF SIGNALS WILLIAM J.E. MEECH, P/J 69020, OF H.M.S. "HOOD" - Called and cautioned.

Q252. Were you on the flag deck when the signal forming line ahead on course ° was signalled?

A. Yes.

Q253. At what time was that signal hoisted?

A. I am unable to say - I do not know.

Q254. Whose duty was it to enter the time of dispatch?

A. Mine.

Q255. Did you enter it?

A. Yes.

Q256. Immediately?

A. Yes.

Q257. Is that your writing?

A. No, sir. Is that the original executive, because I shoud have signed it?

Q258. The time is put on that - do you recognise it now?

A. That is the correct time I put on it.

Q260 (sic) What time did you check that by?

A. The Signal Distributing Office clock.

Q261. What clock is that checked by?

A. The W/T Office.

Q262. How long was it before it had been checked?

A. I checked it at that time at 1223.

Q263. Is that the exact time of the hauling down of the signal?

A. Yes.

Q264. You were looking at the clock at the time?

A. No, I had to take a dozen paces to the Distributing Office to see the time after the signal was hauled down.

Q265. Was this signal answered by "Renown" immediately?

A. Within a matter of a few seconds.

Q266. Did you hear "Renown" making sound signals when going astern?

A. Yes.

Q267. Was this before or after the signal was hoisted?

A. After the signal was hoisted.

Q268. Was it before the signal was hauled down?

A. No after the signal was hauled down.

Q269. Did you record the time of the collision?

A. Yes - 1224.5.

Q270. Was that by the same clock as you recorded the time of the signal?

A. Yes, sir.

Witness withdrew.



Q271. Were you on duty at the time the signal forming single line ahead on course 254° was hoisted?

A. Yes.

Q272 Can you tell us at what time this signal was hoisted?

A. No.

Q273. Was it made by any other method than flags?

A. It was just spoken up the voice pipe to me. I cannot say.

Q274. Was it answered by "Renown" immediately?

A. I cannot sat - I could not see the "Renown".

Q275. Did you hear "Renown" making a sound signal?

A. Yes - three short blasts.

Q276. Was this before or after the signal was hoisted?

A. I cannot make a reply to that question exactly.

Q277. Do you mean you do not know?

A. I cannot remember exactly.

Witness withdrew.

CAPTAIN F.T.B. TOWER, OBE, RN. - Recalled.

Q278. By what clock dod you take the time of 1222 as the time of the collision?

A. The deck watch clock on the compass platform.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.

COMMANDER E.V. LEES, R.N. - Recalled.

Q279 What time was the deck watch set to?

A. That is a special Waltham Chart House clock and set to G.M.T. and checked twice a day.

Q280. When was it set to G.M.T?

A. Just before 8.30a.m. - that morning - and I checked it myself, personally, some minutes after the collision.

Q281. You checked it?

A. Yes - it was then correct within a very few seconds.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.



Q282. Were you on the bridge of the "Hood" just previous to, and at the time of the collision?

A. I was on the bridge but in the Admiral's Chart House up to the time I heard three blasts sounded.

Q283. The court has a memorandum prepared by yourself, which was given to it for information but has not been included as evidence. How did you obtain the times here which are recorded on this memorandum?

A. I took zero as the actual time of the collision which I estimated by ovserving the collision myself, goinf straight to the deck watch in the Chart House, allowing a reasonable time for getting to the deck watch, applying the deck watch's error and noting the result on a piece of paper.

Q284. The time the collision you have given as 1222?

A. Yes.

Q285. Did you see the signal "Course 254 G12" - did you see it hoisted?

A. No.

Q286. How did you arrive at that time?

A. From information from the Squadron Signal Officer.

Q287. You state "This was immdiately answered by "Renown"". Is that by your personal observation?

A. No, that is an extract from "Renown's" report. May I correct that - I am not certain of that answer. I think "Renown" in her report, stated "immediately "Hood" hoisted and hauled down" - I think the report from the "Hood's" Distributing Office was "immediately answered". I am not quite certain.

Q288. You have no personal knowledge?

A. Except for the actual time of collision, of which I am perfectly convinced. I worked everything to zero.

Q289. How did you arrive at the time of 1218 of the signal being hoisted?

A. "Hood" states in her report "about 4 minutes". The information I got from the Squadron Signal Officer was that it was four to five minutes and I put down an arbitary time of 1218. That is allowing 4 minutes back from zero.

Q290. These are not calculated time but estimated times?

A. Estimated, except that where I could get them from the reports and worked them back from zero.

Q291. They are taken from the reports?

A. Yes, not from personal observation.

Witness withdrew.

COMMANDER E.V.LEES, R.N. - Recalled.

Q292. Did you see the signal to form single line ahead hoisted?

A. No.

Q293. Was it reported to you?

Yes. I think I should explain that our bridge is extremely enclosed. Any signal which is hoisted is reported up a voice pipe to either the Leading Signalman of the Watch or Captain's Yeoman if there and the first indication we should get of the hoisting of the signal is a report up the voice-pipe. From the Compass Platform you cannot see out.

Q294. Do you know what time it was reported?

A. No.

Q295. Did you hear "Renown" blow three blasts?

A. Yes.

Q296. At that time had the executive for the single line ahead signal been made?

A. I cannot say - I do not remember.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.

CAPTAIN F.T.B. TOWER, OBE, RN. - Recalled.

Q297. Did you hear "Renown" blow three blasts?

A. Yes.

Q298. can you give us a time when this was?

A. No.

Q299. Was this signal for single line ahead reported to you?

A. Yes.

Q300. You say in your report "about 4 minutes". Can you give an exact time when it was reported to you?

A. No.

Q301. Did you hear "Renown" blow three blasts?

A. Yes.

Q302. Was this after or before the executive signal was reported to you?

A. I cannot tell you. The first indication I had was the Admiral telling me he was going to hoist "single line ahead". After that I was busy.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.


Q303. Was the signal for single line ahead made shortly before the collision reported to you?

A. Yes, sir.

Q304. Do you know what time it was?

A. I did not notice the time.

Q305. And the executive - was it reported to you?

A. Yes.

Q306. Did you hear "Renown" blow three blasts?

A. Yes.

Q307. Was that before or after the collision was reported to you?

A. I cannot say.

Witness withdrew.


Witness produced the engine room registers of "Renown".

Q308. Are these the Engine Room Registers of "Renown"?

A. Yes.

Q309. At what time was the order "Stop both engines" received?

A. At 1220 approximately.

Q310. Is that the time of the bridge clock or the engine room clock?

A. The Engine Room clock.

Q311. What was the difference in the time after checking?

A. One minute.

Q312. the Engine Room clock is slow or fast?

A. Slow.

Q313. At what time by bridge time therefore did you receive the order to stop?

A. By bridge time 1221.

Witness withdrew.


Q314. Do you wish to make a statement?

A. Yes. When I examined my Commander (E) with regard to the times in the engine room ad their value he reported to me that both clocks were advanced one minute after the collision and the port engine room clock was one minute slow on the starboard and, as Lieutenant Morrissey told you, to correct the records in there, the port engine room clock is two minutes slow on the bridge clock. The starboard one a minute slow on the bridge clock. He further stated that the times here are the times of the Engine Room clock when the orders were received on the telegraphs. These are normally correct. There is no seconds hand and it is often read from observations sideways. In this case they were read by an Engine Room Artificer 5th class and often by a Stoker so that time may often be a minute out. Their value is to record the sequence of orders. A quarter of a minute is the normal time taken for an order received to be put into effect.

Q315. Other than gining a rough time they are not of much value?

A. No, and in regard to some of the questions you were asking about the time of hauling down, there are some of those times in agreement with "Hood". I do not think we are much in dispute, as deck watch zero times - G.M.T.

Q316. They ae not of much value?

A. They are of value as times worked from zero and G.M.T. I do not know whether, to illustrate any point you would care to examine my Navigator in respect of his note-book, such as the entry of hauling down of the signal.

(The court informed witness that it was for them to decide what they wished to examine).

Q317. Anything else you wish to say?

A. No.

Witness withdrew but remained in court.

The Engine Room Regsiters of "Renown" were produced to the court and were examined but no useful information could be obtained from them.

Lieutenant (E) Morrissey then withdrew.


Produced "Hood's" Engine Room Registers.

Q318. Are those the Engine Room Registers of the "Hood"?

A. Yes.

Q319. How do you check your clocks?

A. Ring up the bridge.

Q320. How accurately does your clock read?

A. It has a large second hand.

Q321. Do you record times more accurately than half minute intervals?

A. No, sir.

Witness withdrew. The court checked over the Navigating Officers' notebooks but found nothing to throw any light on the matter.

Court closed at 1545.






End of Transcription. We plan on adding more of this document in the future as time permits.