For a century, a Warrior has rested in the blind, silent deep of the North Sea off Norway. We refer to HMS Warrior, an armored cruiser that was mortally wounded, but not killed, at the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago this past summer.
Unlike the other ships, it wasn’t found in time for the anniversary.
The HMS Warrior is the last of the Jutland wrecks to be located, out of 14 British and 11 German warships that were sunk on May 31 and June 1, 1916, as the Imperial German High Seas Fleet tried to break out from the Royal Navy blockade of the North Sea.
“It’s the only wreck left from the Battle of Jutland that we can categorically say is completely unspoiled,” said Innes McCartney, a marine archeologist at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. [See Photos of the Search for the WWI-Era HMS Warrior]
“It’s completely upside down, and it sank down into an area of very soft seabed, right to the level of the upper deck — so everything inside it is completely sealed in,” McCartney told Live Science.
More than 250 warships took part in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval engagement of World War I, and more than 8,500 men were killed, according to British and German wartime records.
McCartney said the HMS Warrior, an armored cruiser, was heavily damaged during the battle by gunfire from the German cruiser SMS Derfflinger, but it had attempted to make its way back to Britain.
When the ship’s engines failed, the Warrior was towed throughout the night by a British aircraft carrier, the HMS Engadine. By morning, however, the Warrior had filled with water, and it was abandoned after its surviving crew of around 700 were taken off, McCartney said.
He added that the final resting place of the Warrior was unknown until the wreck was discovered on Aug. 25, using sonar scans and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) equipped with video cameras.
Warrior had several remarkable men and officers aboard, like Engineer Lieutenant Geoffrey Morgan, who was recommended for an immediate promotion to Engineer Lieutenant-Commander among a long list of battle-honored officers and petty officers.
Geoffrey Morgan. Captain Molteno, late of “Warrior,” (above – Photo Ships) reports: ”Utmost gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty in remaining in the enginerooms after the explosion and endeavouring to take action for the safety of the ship, by which delay he was imprisoned under the grating for over two hours, and very narrowly escaped losing his life by drowning, scalding and suffocation. Was almost overcome when rescued. He afterwards took part with energy and coolness in the work of salving the ship. This officer, under the able supervision of Engineer Commander Kitching, has run the engine-room department extremely well, and greatly increased ‘Warrior’s’ steaming efficiency.”
Steaming efficiency was not enough, under a rain of 11″ and 5.9″ shells from German ships. But Morgan survived, to receive his promotion, dated 30 June 1916 (as were many of the meritorious promotions of Jutland heroes). Commander Vincent B. Molteno of Warrior was commended by Admiral Jellicoe, and invested with the Order of St. Anne by the Tsar of Russia. He did handle his ship with
Another officer, this one an aviator from the seaplane tender Engadine, made a hero of himself during the perilous transfer of Warrior’s survivors to Engadine at sea.
29703 – 11 AUGUST 1916
Admiralty, 11th August, 1916.
The KING (is) pleased to confer the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class on:-
Lieutenant Frederick Joseph Rutland, R.N. (Flight Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service).
The following is the account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred:
During the transhipment of the crew of H.M.S. “Warrior” to H.M.S. “Engadine” on the morning of the 1st of June, 1916, succeeding the naval battle off the coast of Jutland, one of the severely wounded, owing to the violent motion of the two ships, was accidentally dropped overboard from a stretcher and fell between the ships. As the ships were working most dangerously, the Commanding Officer of the “Warrior” had to forbid two of his officers from jumping overboard to the rescue of the wounded man, as he considered that it would mean their almost certain death. Before he could be observed, however, Lieutenant Rutland, of H.M.S. “Engadine,” went overboard from the forepart of that ship with a bowline, and worked himself aft. He succeeded in putting the bowline around the wounded man and in getting him hauled on board, but it was then found that the man was dead, having been crushed between the two ships. Lieutenant Rutland’s escape from a similar fate was miraculous. His bravery is reported to have been magnificent.
Magnificent, eh. One can just imagine what old Rutland would say to that.
Warrior’s class makes her an oddity today. She was an Armored Cruiser, a type of neither-fish-nor-fowl ship that would rise with the century and set with the end of the war, and especially with the Washington Naval Conference and other disarmament treaties of the inter-war years. By limiting capital-ship tonnage, the treaties obsoleted all those ships that were nominally capital ships, but not modern battleships. (If you only have so many tons to make warships of, you want the best quality tonnage you can buy). Today, only one armored cruiser of the scores built worldwide survives, as a commissioned museum ship in Greece.
And there’s an HMS Warrior that’s a museum ship in Portsmouth, England — but she’s an older ship, from the 19th Century.