Little Bits of History

October 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 27, 2017

1914: HMS Audacious sinks. She was the fourth and final King George V class dreadnaught, so named after the original battleship built to the newer specifications in 1906. The major improvements associated with the class of ships was an “all-big-gun” armament scheme and the steam turbine propulsion system. In July, the world was on edge as the outcome of the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand came to a head. World War I officially began on July 29. Audacious had taken part in a mobilization test even before the War began from July 17 to 20. When war broke out, the Home Fleet put the Grand Fleet, of which this ship was a part, under the command of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe.

Audacious was refitted during August and September and returned to duty in October. Now on the west coast of Scotland, the 2nd Battle Squadron left Tory Island, Ireland on this day for gunnery practice. As they sailed away, at 8.45 AM Audacious was rocked by an explosion. The captain believed it to be a German U-boat torpedo and ordered all other dreadnoughts to depart, as protocol demanded. The smaller ships remained to render assistance. However, Audacious had struck an underwater mine laid a few days earlier by the SS Berlin. The Audacious was struck from beneath about ten feet forward of the transverse bulkhead.

The ship began to list but with corrective measures this was partly corrected. The SOS message was received by RMS Olympic, sister to the Titanic, and she arrived on the scene. Audacious could make a speed of about 10 mph and the Captain hoped to be able to beach the ship on higher land 25 miles away. He had covered 15 miles before the engine rooms flooded and power ceased. By 2 PM, he ordered all non-essential crew to be taken off. The Olympic attempted to tow the ship, but lines fouled. Other smaller ships also tried to tow, but couldn’t. When it was finally realized the explosion was a mine, the other dreadnoughts returned and also tried to help to tow Audacious to safety.

By 5 PM, only the Captain and 50 men remained aboard, but towing was slow due to rough waters. As dark approached at 6.15 PM, all abandoned ship. At 8.45 PM, Audacious heeled sharply, paused briefly, and then capsized. She floated upside down for fifteen minutes before the first explosion. It is believed that high explosive shells fell from racks, ignited cordite in the magazine, and blew. A piece of armor plating flew 800 yards away from the wreckage and struck a petty officer aboard one of the recue ships. He was the only casualty of the day, besides the ship itself. Jellicoe demanded the sinking be covered up. But there were many Americans aboard the Olympic who had photographs of the sinking. The Royal Navy finally announced the loss of the ship on November 14, 1918 after the War ended.

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. – Secretary of the Admiralty on November 14, 1918

You can bail water 24/7, and no matter how good you are at not sinking, you still have a hole in your boat. – Kelli Jae Baeli

When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me 85 dollars. That is why in the Navy the Captain goes down with the ship. – Dick Gregory

It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage. – George William Curtis



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