Friday, September 19, 2008
German 247 m long 50,000-ton battleship with eight 38 cm guns, top speed 30 knots, and a 2100 men crew, built in 1939. Bismarck sank HMS Hood in May, 1941 in the North Atlantic. Shortly after that, off the French coast, Bismarck was attacked by British torpedo-carrying aircraft. One of the torpedoes (too weak to penetrate the hull) got stuck in Bismarck's rudder without exploding. The steering was jammed and the ship doomed to spin in circles. After receiving thousands of shells Bismarck sank. Whether she sank from the shells, or was scuttled by her own crew remains disputed, but no matter which, the Germans lost the battle. 115 men survived. Even if the ship had not been sunk it wouldn't change history. A single ship like the Bismarck would only dare occasional hit-and-run attacks in the Atlantic.
The wreck was discovered in 1989 by Dr Robert Ballard on 4700 m depth. The hull was surprisingly intact, which might support the theory that the ship was sunk by its own crew rather than surrender it. In 2002, James Cameron filmed a documentary on and about the wreck.