Allied Warships

HMS Royal Oak (08)

Battleship of the Royal Sovereign class

HMS Royal Oak at anchor before the war.

NavyThe Royal Navy
ClassRoyal Sovereign 
Built byDevonport Dockyard (Plymouth, U.K.) 
Ordered 1913 
Laid down15 Jan 1914 
Launched17 Nov 1914 
Commissioned1 May 1916 
Lost14 Oct 1939 
Loss position58° 55'N, 2° 59'W

At 0116 hours on 14 October 1939 the German submarine U-47 fired a spread of three torpedoes at HMS Royal Oak and the British seaplane tender HMS Pegasus lying at anchor in the harbour of Scapa Flow, turned around and fired a stern torpedo at 0121 hours. Prien misidentified the seaplane tender as HMS Repulse and claimed a hit, but a torpedo apparently hit the starboard anchor chain of the battleship and did not damage the ships. At 0123 hours, the U-boat fired a second spread of three torpedoes that hit HMS Royal Oak (Capt. William Gordon Benn, RN) on the starboard side and caused a magazine to blew up. The battleship rolled over and sank in 19 minutes in position 58º55'N, 02º59'W. The ship complement was 1208 officers and men, 834 of them were killed and there were 375 survivors.

More information on HMS Royal Oak can be found at this website (offsite link)  

Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 14 Oct 1939 by U-47 (Prien).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Royal Oak

Commands listed for HMS Royal Oak (08)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Capt. William Gordon Benn, RN7 Jul 193914 Oct 1939

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Royal Oak include:

14 Oct 1939
On the night of October 14 1939 Royal Oak became the first Battleship to be lost in the Second World War. A German U-Boat, U-47, under the Command of Günther Prien managed to penetrate Scapa Flow. U-47 proceeded to fire three torpedoes at the battle ship, none of which had any success. The first torpedo hit an anchor chain, which didn't cause the crew no concern until the second hit the starboard engine room, destroying the emergency broadcast system.

A short while later the submarine fired three more torpedoes, this time with devastating effect. The Royal Oak blew up, rolled over and began to sink, foundering in 19 minutes. 833 lives were lost only 375 survived.

Media links

British Battleships of World War One

R. A. Burt
($ 79.95)
(EUR 65.66)

British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

R. A. Burt
($ 65.47)
(£ 64.57)
(EUR 67.23)

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 45.00)
(EUR 44.32)

British battleships 1939-45 (1)

Konstam, Angus
($ 17.93)
(EUR 11.99)

Return to the Allied Warships section