You Sunk My…

I’m expecting a flood of Battleship-related posts in the near future with the U.S. opening this weekend. For instance, I’ve been promised a humorous take of this hard-hitting documentary over at USNI blog, so I’ll take a more straight-faced look at battleships.

 

As nukes are to the egos and deterrent calculus of nations today, so were battleships in the first half of the 20th Century. While the fact that today’s navies no longer possess battleships may be lost on this weekend’s moviegoers, what’s even more shocking is that after conducting extensive Wikipedia research, I uncovered no instances in which a battleship was sunk due to alien action.

 

Fear nothing?

This is an inexcusable error on the part of the filmmakers, but I thought our readers might nonetheless like to know the truth behind battleship sinkings. Below are the rough figures of the fates of post-Dreadnought battleships (excluding battlecruisers). Those not listed were scrapped, turned into a museum, taken to sea by Stephen Seagal, or commandeered by Cher (see photo above).

 

Doing some rough, back-of-the-envelope calculations, it looks like the number one cause of a sinking during a conflict (granted due primarily to the exceptional actions at Scapa Flow) was the hands of a ship’s own crew.

 

Sunk by Aircraft – 12 – 27%:

  • –        RN Conte di Cavour                                1940
  • –        HMS Prince of Wales                              1941
  • –        Marat                                                            1941
  • –        USS Arizona                                               1941
  • –        USS West Virginia                                   1941 (Salvaged and returned to service)
  • –        USS California                                          1941 (Salvaged and returned to service)
  • –        USS Oklahoma                                         1941
  • –        USS Utah:                                                   1941 (After conversion to an anti-aircraft training ship)
  • –        RN Roma                                                    1943
  • –        SMS Tirpitz                                                1944
  • –        IJN Musashi                                              1944
  • –        IJN Yamato                                               1945

Scuttled to Prevent Enemy Use – 15 – 33%:

  • –        Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya       1917
  • –        SMS Kaiser                                                 1919
  • –        SMS Prinzregent Luitpold                    1919
  • –        SMS Kaiserin                                             1919
  • –        SMS Friedrich der Grosse                      1919
  • –        SMS König Albert                                     1919
  • –        SMS König                                                  1919
  • –        SMS Großer Kurfürst                              1919
  • –        SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm                       1919
  • –        SMS Markgraf                                          1919
  • –        SMS Bayern                                               1919
  • –        SMS Bismarck                                          1941  (While under enemy fire – cause disputed)
  • –        Dunkerque                                                  1942
  • –        Strasbourg                                                 1942
  • –        Provence                                                     1942

Surface Fire or Surface Torpedoes – 4 – 9%:

  • –        SMS Szent István                                      1918
  • –        Bretagne                                                      1940
  • –        Fusō                                                              1944
  • –        Yamashiro                                                  1944

Torpedoed by Submarine – 2 – 4%:

  • –        SMS Szent István                                      1918 (h/t Chuck Hill)
  • –        HMS Royal Oak                                        1939
  • –        HMS Barham                                             1941

Sunk as Breakwater – 2 – 4%:

  • –        HMS Centurion                                        1944
  • –        Courbet                                                        1944

Sunk after Running Aground – 1 – 2%:

  • –        España                                                        1923

Sunk by Frogmen – 1 – 2%:

  • –        Viribus Unitis                                           1918

Sunk by Claimed Sabotage – 2 – 4%:

  • –        RN Leonardo da Vinci                          1916
  • –        Jaime I                                                        1937

Sunk by Mines – 2 – 4%:

  • –        HMS Audacious                                      1914
  • –        España                                                       1937

Sunk by Internal Explosion – 4 – 9%:

  • –        Imperatritsa Mariya                             1916
  • –        HMS Vanguard                                       1917
  • –        Kawachi                                                     1918
  • –        Mutsu                                                          1943

Sunk by Aliens – 0 – 0%

Scuttling in the Scapa: German battleship Bayern.

Sunk During Peacetime

Scuttled at Sea:

  • –        USS Pennsylvania                                 1948

Sunk after Running Aground

  • –        France                                                        1922

Sunk During Target Practice:

  • –        SMS Ostfriesland                                   1921
  • –        SMS Baden                                               1921
  • –        SMS Thüringen                                       1923
  • –        Aki                                                                1924
  • –        Satsuma                                                     1924
  • –        USS Washington                                    1924
  • –        HMS Monarch                                        1925
  • –        HMS Emperor of India                        1931

Sunk During Underwater Nuclear Test

  • –        Nagato                                                       1946
  • –        USS Arkansas                                         1946

Unknown Cause:

  • –        Novorossiysk                                          1955

Sunk due to Weather:

  • –        São Paulo                                                  1951

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