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  HMS Repulse
Royal Navy
Renown Class
Battlecruiser

32000 Tons (Standard)

4 x 40mm

Click For Enlargement
June 12, 1924

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December 10, 1941

Ship History
Second to last battlecruiser built by John Brown and Company in Clydebank, Scotland, for the Royal Navy. Laid down on January 25, 1915. Launched on January 8, 1916, too late to take part in the Battle of Jutland, but also too early to incorporate the lessons of that battle. Commissioned on August 18, 1916.

During September 1916, she joined the Grand Fleet as flagship of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron. Repulse first saw action on November 17, 1917 at the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight. Commanded by Captain William "Ginger" Boyle she briefly engaged two German battleships, SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin, before they retired. The next month, Repulse was damaged in collision with the battlecruiser HMAS Australia (1911).

Repulse's first re-build took place from 1918 to 1920. The major element of refit was the replacement of her 6 inch (152 mm) armour belt with 9 inches (229 mm) and a further 6 inch (152 mm) section above it protecting what had previously been unarmoured. Together with improved anti-torpedo bulges this meant an additional 4,300 tons of armour. Her torpedo tubes were moved from underwater to on deck. In 1924-1925, the mixture of low angle 4 inch (102 mm) and high angle 3 inch (76 mm) guns were changed to 4 inch (102 mm) high angle guns. Also included were improvements to the anti-aircraft armament, and facilities for a spotter aircraft. The last major refit was 1933-1936 when she received more armour, more anti-aircraft guns (2 pdr pom-poms (40 mm) and 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) Vickers machine guns) and an aircraft catapult with two hangers. Initially the aircraft were Fairey Swordfish floatplanes (replaced in 1941 with the Supermarine Walrus). After the refit she went on the Mediterranean.

Wartime History
At the outbreak of war in 1939, Repulse searched for German commerce raiders, but found none. In December, she performed escort duty for troop carriers between Canada and Britain. The start of the Allied campaign in Norway saw Repulse covering minelaying by British forces. In July, 1940, when Glowworm was lost Repulse took part in the search, but failed to make contact with Admiral Hipper. Towards the end of the campaign, during the evacuation of British troops, due to concern that an invasion of Iceland was in process. After this proved false, Repulse returned to convoy protection through early 1941.

In January 1941, Repulse participated in the hunt for the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. In May, she took part in the chase of the Bismarck. Originally scheduled to escort convoy WS-8B to the Middle East around Africa, Repulse operated as part of the Home Fleet, but was detached from the main body prior to the last engagement due to fears of a repeat of the loss of Hood and to lack of fuel.

In August, she was transferred to Cape Town, South Africa, and in October, she was transferred to India, arriving on 28 October. At the end of 1941, as the threat of war with Japan loomed ever larger, Repulse was detached to the Far East as a deterrent to further Japanese aggression.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in the Pacific on 8 December 1941, Repulse left Singapore in company with the other major element of the Eastern Fleet, including HMS Prince of Wales, and 4 destroyers, to try and intercept Japanese invasion force heading towards Malaya.

Sinking Histroy
On December 10, 1941, after failing to find any Japanese invasion forces, and turning south, Japanese aircraft were spotted. The fleet was attacked by 86 Japanese aircraft from the 22nd Air Flotilla based in Saigon, which attacked both HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse.

The Repulse survived a bomb hit and managed to dodge 14 torpedoes before being sunk in 20 minutes after receiving 5 torpedo hits. 327 crew members died in the sinking.

The destroyers HMS Electra and HMAS Vampire rescued survivors of Repulse, while Express rescued survivors of the Prince of Wales. Even after they were rescued, some survivors of the Repulse manned Action Stations on HMS Electra, to free the Electra sailors to rescue more survivors. In total, 1,285 survivors of the Repulse were rescued, of which Electra saved 571; 327 died. Electra and the other destroyers then returned to Singapore to drop off the survivors.

Shipwreck
Japanese sent a team to salvage some equipment which including a new, secret radar from the HMS Repulse, some guns and several parts which useful to the Japanese. They found it 100' from surface.

The wreck site was designated as a 'Protected Place' in 2001 under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, just prior to the 60th anniversary of her sinking. The Royal Navy maintains a White Ensign flag on the mast of the Repulse.

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Last Updated
March 5, 2013

 

SCUBA
54m / 177'

Map
3 33.6 N
104 28.7' E

 

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