Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
HMS Ark Royal (91)
|Laid down:||16 September 1935|
|Launched:||13 April 1937|
|Commissioned:||16 December 1938|
|Fate:||torpedoed by U-81 on 13 November 1941. Sunk 14 November 1941|
|Class:||Ark Royal Class|
|Length:||800 feet (244 m)|
|Beam:||94.8 feet (28.9 m)|
|Speed:||31 knots (57 km/h)|
|Range:||7600 miles (12,200 km) at 20 knots (37 km/h)|
|Complement:||1,600 officers and men|
|Armament:||16 × 4.5 inch (114 mm) guns in eight twin mounts, 48 × two pounder (907 g) 8-barrel Pompoms, 32 × .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machineguns|
|Motto:||Zeal Does Not Rest|
HMS Ark Royal (91), was the third ship of the Royal Navy to be named in honor of the flagship of the English fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada. She was designed in 1934 to meet the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty, and was built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead, England . Construction was completed in November 1938.
In December 1939 she was sent to the South Atlantic to help in the search for the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. In the spring of 1940 she participated in the Norwegian campaign, and in July she joined the attack on the French Navy's base at Mers El Kébir, Algeria. The following September, Ark Royal took part in a second assault on the French Navy, this time at Dakar. While covering a Mediterranean convoy in late November, her planes attacked Italian battleships, though without making any hits. In return, she was bombed, and missed, by enemy aircraft.
During March 1941, Ark Royal pursued the German battlecruisers (or light battleships) Scharnhorst and Gneisenau during the last phase of their Atlantic sortie. On 26 May of that year, her torpedo planes hit Bismarck, making the enemy battleship virtually unmanoeuvrable and allowing other British warships to close and sink her.
Ark Royal was also very active in the Mediterranean Sea during 1941. She struck the port of Genoa in early February, during a British Naval raid deep into Italian-controlled waters. On several occasions, she ferried planes to the beleaguered base at Malta and covered Malta-bound convoys. While returning to Gibraltar from one such mission, Ark Royal was torpedoed on 13 November 1941 by the German submarine U-81. After a difficult struggle against progressive flooding, the carrier capsized and sank on 14 November 1941.¹ Her exact location remained unknown until mid-December 2002 when the BBC announced that a film crew had located the wreck in 900 metres of water some 30 miles (50 km) off Gibraltar.
See HMS Ark Royal for other ships of the same name.
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