british British Royal Navy - Admiralty - RN HMS Barham (04) [+1941]
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nationality british
purpose war
type battleship
subtype/class Queen Elisabeth class battleship
propulsion steam turbine
date built 1913
weight (tons) 29150  disp (surf)
dimensions 196.3 x 31.7 x 10.2 m
material steel, armoured
engine Three drum boilers, 4 Parsons geared turbine engines, 4 shafts, 4 screws
armament 8 x 15" guns, 8 x 6", 8 x 4", 4 x 3 pdr, 15 mg, 4 x 21" T.T., 1 aircraft
power 75000  s.h.p.
speed 25  knots
yard no. 424
about the loss
cause lost torpedo
other reasons explosion
date lost 25/11/1941  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  max.862rank: 123
about people
John Brown & Co. Ltd., Clydebank (Scotland)
British Royal Navy - Admiralty - RN, London
captain Cooke, G. C.
complement 1124~1184
about the wreck
depth (m.) 2800 max. / -- min. (m)
war grave yes
entered by Jan Lettens
entered 01/07/2002
last update Jan Lettens
last update 31/10/2013
[1] Jan Lettens17/11/2009
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Jan Lettens02/08/2012HMS BARHAM

British Navy, dreadnought-battleship; 1914; John Brown & Co; 31.000 tons; 644x104x33,5; 75.000shp; 25 knots; turbine engines; 3-drum boilers; eight 15 in. Guns, twelve 6 in, eight 4 in, four 3 pdr, 15 mg, 2 T.T. 1 aircraft.

  • In 1914 the Battleship Barham, Capt. G.C. Cooke, was the flagship of Vice-Admiral H.O. Pridham-Whippell, commanding the Eastern Mediterranean. On Novermber 25th, 1941, at about 4:25pm, the battle-squadron consisting of Barham, Queen Elisabeth and Valiant was carrying out exercises off the Egyptian coast.
  • The force had left Alexandria to cover an air-operation against an Italian convoy. The vessels were in the act of altering course together, the speed being 17 knots, when a submarine U-331 managed to penetrate the destoyer screen and press home her attack.
  • The U-331was sighted from Valiant at a distance of 700 yards. She fired three torpedoes at Barham, all of which appeared to strike. The battleship rolled over on her side and sank in five minutes, her magazines causing an enormeous explosion as she went down.
  • Only about 300 were saved, including the Admiral. Those lost numbered 56 officers, incl. The Captain, 658 ratings and 134 mariners, a total of 848. Many men had scrambled on the upturned hull as she ´turned turtle´. The Valiant made an unsuccessful attempt to ram the submarine.
Jan Lettens17/11/2009U-331 was the submarine that torpedoed and sunk the British battleship HMS Barham on November 25th 1941, with a great loss of life (848 killed).

There is a spectacular video footage of HMS Barham blowing up.
Jan Lettens02/08/2012BATTLE OF MATAPAN

During the battle of Matapan, the British Navy ships WARSPITE, BARHAM, VALIANT and FORMIDABLE managed to sink heavy cruisers POLA, FIUME, ZARA and destroyers VITTORIO ALFIERI and GIOSUE CARDUCCI.

The Italian plan Operation Gaudo called for a strong naval force to patrol the area in the Mediterranean, sinking any British convoys or escort warships it might encounter. Battleship Vittorio Veneto, six heavy cruisers and 2 light cruisers and a number of destroyers were engaged in the operation.

The Italians, missing air cover and having no radar, seriously underestimated the British power in the Mediterranean and when they returned for Toranto, they nearly escaped with minor damage. However, when POLA was damaged by an aerial torpedo, the entire 1st Cruiser Division (cruisers Fiume and Zara, destroyers Vittorio Alfieri, Giosue Carducci, Vincenzo Gioberti and Alfredo Oriani) was requested to return to help the POLA, who was damaged by an aerial torpedo. They ran right into the entire British force.
Jan Lettens28/08/2008UK hydro member
ref. used: 
 UK Hydrographic Office

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About Owners
British Royal Navy - Admiralty - RN, London

In 1509 when Henry VIII was crowned he realised the growing navel power of King James IV of Scots. James had built an impressive fleet to control the Western Isles and was allied to France. Henry built up of his own fleet, the Navy Royal, as it was then known. New ships were constructed, the best known being the Mary Rose. Smaller types of warships (galleases) combining the best features of oars, sails and guns were also built. By Henry's death in 1547 his fleet had grown to 58 vessels.

In 1546 a 'Council of the Marine' was established which later became the 'Navy Board'. The Navy Board was in charge of the daily administration of the navy until 1832 when it was combined with the Board of the Admiralty.

Elizabeth I inherited a fleet of only 27 ships in 1558. Instead of building up her own fleet Elizabeth encouraged private enterprise against Spain's new empire. Men like Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake to command groups of Royal and private ships to attack the Spanish. When Spain threatened invasion with its Armada in 1588 the Navy of England both Royal and private defended the realm.

Early in the Seventeenth Century, larger galleons were built with heavier armaments. the largest English ship was Sovereign of the Seas built for prestige purposes by Charles I in 1637. The first ship with three gun decks to carry her 102 guns, she was the most powerful ship in the world for many years.

When King Charles II came to the throne in 1660 he inherited a huge fleet of 154 ships. This was a permanent professional national force and the beginning of the Royal Navy as we know it today.

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About Builders
 John Brown & Co. Ltd., Clydebank (Scotland)
One of the largest naval shipbuilders in the UK, John Brown produced both battleships and cruisers in quantity for the Royal Navy and approved foreign clients (Chile, Japan). Brown's was also noted for ocean liners of the largest size and speed, including the LUSITANIA, AQUITANIA, QUEEN MARY, and both QUEEN ELIZABETHs for the Cunard Line. The company had its own steelworks in Sheffield and shipyard in Clydebank, a city actually named for its shipyard, near Dalmuir on the Clyde. At peak workforce before WWI the works directly employed over 10,000 men. In the midst of this prewar arms race and prosperity in 1907, the company issued a commemorative volume on the completion of the LUSITANIA. Not content to tout the ship herself, the company produced an impressive brag piece for the yard -- our source for many of the photos here reproduced. Notable warships built at the yard included the Japanese battleship ASAHI, the British battleships HINDUSTAN, AFRICA, and VALIANT (QE class), and the battlecruisers TIGER, REPULSE, INDEFATIGABLE, and HOOD. In 1971 Browns was sold to Marathon Oil. The shipyard remained in service to the North Sea oil industry before being closed by a successor company; the site was demolished in 2002. It is now the site of Clydebank Community College; a few of the original buildings and the giant Titan crane remain in the midst of a bulldozed wasteland. The engineering arm of John Brown continues (after several bouts of acquisition) as John Brown Engineering Gas Turbines Ltd, E. Kilbride, UK.

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Jan Lettens  27/06/2010
Barham HMS sinking and exploding violently.
 British Pathe
Barham HMS sinking and exploding violently.
Barham HMS sinking and exploding violently.
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HMS Barham (04) [+1941]
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