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HMS Hermes before conversion
Short Folder S64 HMS Hermes
HMS Hermes sinking

On this day 7 May 1913

Published: 07 May 2014

On this day 7 May 1913 HMS Hermes is commissioned as the experimental ship for operating aircraft at sea.

HMS Hermes, a former light cruiser, was converted in April 1913 as an experimental seaplane carrier, commissioning 7 May 1913. Her forward 6-inch gun was removed and a tracked launching platform was built over the forecastle. A canvas hangar was fitted at the aft end of the rails to shelter the aircraft from the weather and a derrick was rigged from the foremast to lift the seaplane from the water. The guns on the quarterdeck were removed to allow for a seaplane to be stowed there in another hangar. A third aircraft could also be carried amidships. Following successful trials, she was paid off 30 December 1913.

With the outbreak of WW1, she was recommissioned on 31 August 1914 and used for ferrying aircraft to France. On 30 October 1914, Hermes arrived at Dunkirk with a load of seaplanes. The next morning, 31 October 1914, Hermes set out on the return journey but was recalled because a German submarine was reported in the area. Before the order could be obeyed, Hermes was torpedoed by U-27 off Ruylingen Bank in the Straits of Dover. Despite her injuries Hermes remained afloat for nearly two hours. Of her complement, over 400, including her commanding officer Capt C R Lambe, were taken off by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies steamship Invicta, and two destroyers. She sank with the loss of 22 of her crew.


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