-H.M.S. Hood Technical Specifications & Armament Information-
Notes on Handling the "Hood"
Updated 06-May-2014

The following is a transcription of a Standing Order issued in the late 1930s. It concerns the best ways to manoeuvre Hood under various conditions. The original document is held as 1988.421/6 at the Royal Navy Library, Portsmouth Naval Base.

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1. The following Standing Orders for working the Engines have proved very satisfactory:- (see Captain's Standing Order No. 12 (E)).

(a) Slow Speed - 4 knots (Ahead or Astern)

(b) Half Speed - 60 revs. (9½ knots) (Ahead or Astern)

(c) If more power is required with both engines astern run Revolution Telegraph to 150 revs. Power reached and rate of increase will depend on the number of boilers alight.

(d) Full Speed -

(1) On BOTH Telegraphs (i.e. both full ahead or full astern) is used only in emergency and calls for maximum power regardless of maintaining steam.

(2) When the engines are not both to be moved in the same manner, one telegraph may be put to Full Ahead or Astern, or one telegraph to full Ahead and the other to Full Astern. This full speed order indicates maximum power but maintaining steam, and is used quite frequently when manoeuvring in harbour.

Note 1: in emergency a telephone message will take effect very quickly and can be used to supplement the Telegraphed order.

Note 2: the ship will slowly gather headway with one engine going full ahead and the other full astern.

Note 3: It takes about 40 seconds from the time a Telegraph is put from Stop to Ahead or Astern before the engines start to move.

2. Number of Boilers required.

(a) Leaving harbour in ordinary weather and simple conditions - 12 boilers.

(b) Entering Malta or Gibraltar - 12 or 15 boilers.

(c) Cruising - up to 15 knots - 9 boilers.

(d) In fog - not less than 12 boilers.

(e) For short bursts of speed, such as are required for Firing Practices:-

(1) 25 knots can be reached with 15 boilers.

(2) 26½ knots can be reached with 18 boilers.

These are at full power and consequently uneconomical.

(f) With the 24 boilers Full Power, 144000 HP can be exceeded leaving sufficient power for auxiliary machinery required in Action.

3. Points of Interest.

(a) The time required to get rudder on the ship is very considerably longer than is usual.

(b) She carries an increasingly large amount of weather helm as her speed decreases.

(c) She is sluggish in turning away from a wind before the beam. This wants watching when moving at slow speeds.

(d) She is very slow in answering Rudder when travelling at 8 knots or less. Use 20 degrees of rudder to start her swing, even for a small turn.

(e) Do not reduce speed of engines, or stop them, just before you want to use Rudder.

(f) On the other hand, an increase of revolutions as the rudder is put over increases appreciably her rate of swinging.

(g) With the execution of the condition of a strong bow wind, she can be kept under control with the rudder at very slow speed through the water as long as the Engines are moving Ahead, but once they are stopped it is often necessary to use one Engine Ahead to check or start a swing.

Wash on the rudder from either of the inner propellers moving Ahead is the secret of her manoeuvring power. This was proved when on one occasion both inner Engines were out of action: she was then very sluggish on her Rudder and moreover would not even point satisfactorily with the ship stopped.

(h) There being no wash effect on the rudder from propellers going Astern, the turning moment of going astern with one engine is not great unless Full Speed is used, but a "flick" ahead with the other engine and the Rudder hard over will gain control, and have little effect on headway.

(i) When the ship is travelling slowly she is greatly influenced in the time she will take to answer her Rudder by any slight tendency one way or the other at the moment the Rudder is put over.

A tendency of this kind may not be evident on the Compass: the eye can detect it more quickly.

(j) When running up to a berth with the Engines stopped it is useful to put the Telegraph to Slow Speed Astern and this get the Engines turning before you wish to start bringing the ship up. (See Note 3 under para.1).

(k) Slow astern Both will scarcely check her way at all.

(l) With 15 boilers (or even 12), she will pull up very quickly with Half Astern Both and 150 revolutions on the "Rev" Telegraph.

(m) When making a stern board she answers her Rudder sluggishly. A decided swing must be avoided or dealt with by using the Engines.

While with sternway, the propeller moment produced by either stopping one Engine or putting one Engine Ahead seems to be greater than that given by stopping or reversing one Engine when moving Ahead.

(n) When making a stern board with a strong beam wind, use the weather engine only and the lee Engine ready to be moved Ahead to claw her stern out of the wind if she starts to pay her stern off to windward.

(o) Pointing without gathering headway is a very long process (10 degrees in 50 seconds). A drain of sternway at first, corrected by a good kick ahead on the outer side starts her off well.

Nearly the whole turning moment comes from the wash of the Ahead screws on the Rudder: the moment the speed of the Ahead screws is reduced her swing falls away.

(p) In deep water she turns very well indeed from rest with the Rudder hard over and Engines at Half Ahead both at 13 knots. She will advance very little during the first 20 degrees of a turn made like this, but is then picking up headway fast. By the time she is round about 50 degrees she is falling into her normal turning circle.

(q) If when moving through the water at about 10 knots one Engine is stopped and reversed at Half speed, and the Rudder is put hard over, she will lose headway very rapidly and will turn 180 degrees in about 800 yards diameter. At 90 degrees she will be moving Ahead at no more than about 2½ knots.

(r) Hard over Rudder drops her speed very quickly. If full Rudder is used during a turn in formation an increase of 2 knots by revolutions will not be too much to counteract her speed drop, (relative to the speed drops of ships using manoeuvring Rudder) and will help the turn.

(s) 1. Forming Astern. The approximate advance at 10 knots and 30 degrees of Rudder us 1000 yards for a 90 degree turn - a useful figure to remember when forming astern from a steep approach course.

2. From a Position Ahead. Steer to pass 2000 yards abeam - this allows about 3 cables over and above the tactical diameter. Wheel over when 45 degrees on the bow of and 3000 yards from ship to be formed on. This is about right for 14 knots own speed and 12 knots speed of ship formed on.

3. "Form Astern and Follow in the Wake". - From a position at station distance on the quarter. Steady on the stem of your next ahead. Remember the long advance and put wheel over to turn up to the course in plenty of time. Watch the speed drop due to the use of the Rudder.

4. Column distance of 8 cables apart with two ships in column at 4 cables apart is insufficient to allow "HOOD" to manoeuvre in the orthodox manner from a position abeam to "in station astern" of the other column. To perform this manoeuvre safely and neatly "HOOD" should swing outwards 20 degrees followed immediately by a turn of 110 degrees towards, then 90 degrees back to the original course. This can be done safely without reduction of speed, but in order to arrive in station 4 cables astern of the read (2nd) ship of the column being formed on, an increase of 2 knots should be made as the third (and last) turn is being started.

A distance between columns of 10 cables would make the manoeuvre, by two 90 degree turns, possible if speed is increased at once.

(t) To open out distance in line the following formula is an excellent guide (in "HOOD" only) and obviates a reduction in speed and consequent loss of manoeuvring power.

Haul out 'N' degrees and immediately turn back '2N' degrees, then fall into line again.

Where 'N' = 10 + 5 x (Number of cables to drop).

For example, to drop back 4 cables:-

'N' = 10 + (5 x 4) = 30 degrees. Turn 30 degrees to Port and immediately 60 degrees to Starboard. This leaves a 30 degree turn to fall in station astern.

(u) Viewed from the Bridge or wings the following marks and distances are useful for close manoeuvring:-

1. The Bull-ring cuts the water about 40 yards ahead of the stem.

2. The top of the jackstaff cuts the water at about 160 yards ahead of the stem.

3. The AX abreast the after Bollard cuts the water at about 10 yards astern of the stern post.

(v) Anchoring in still water from 12 or 13 knots speed.

With 12 boilers alight
At 1½ miles.
At 5 cables,

(Dependant on Wind)
Reduce to 6 knots.
Stop both
(at 7 cables Slow both
(at 3 cables Stop both.
Just before letting go.
On letting go.
Slow astern both.
Half astern both (Run out 6 or 7 shackles)

Against 10 knot wind
(so as to keep steerage way).


8 knots at t 1½ miles.
Stop at 5 cables.
Slow astern both at 1 cable.
Use 150 revs. astern.

(w) Mooring in still water from 12 or 13. (? Wind)

At 1½ miles reduce to 6 knots.
At 3½ cables - stop.

(x) Picking up a torpedo or boat amidships. (Rough guide only).

At 15 cables
At 8 cables
At 3 cables
At 2 cables
At 1 cable

8 knots
Slow both
Stop both
Slow astern both.
Half astern both.

(y) From 12 knots ahead stopping and reversing engines.

Half astern both and 150 revolutions, ship will travel about 5 cables. (4 minutes).

(z) When stopped the ship will take up a position with the wind just abaft the beam. The best lee is abreast the foremast.

(aa) Tugs. A Tug towing at the bow while turning at rest with the screws can be of considerable assistance.

A Tug towing at the stern is a constant anxiety.

Tugs are useful for holding the ship up to her line of buoys when securing head and stern with the wind across, but take steps to ensure that they pull square and don't move the ship ahead or astern.

Portsmouth and Gibraltar tugs are very good at pushing, but only the smaller tugs can push aft on "HOOD". The larger tugs cannot place their fenders low enough. "HOOD's" bulges limit the positions at which tugs can push.

(bb) It is important when coming to a buoy to place the ship very accurately and to hold her there while shackling on. This is on account of the very heavy cable and shackle, and also due to the fact that at our special moorings at No. 11 Bighi, the chain pendant of the moorings cannot be hove through the buoy: men shackling on have therefore to be actually on the buoy, the weight of which is partly on the picking-up rope. Any endeavour to lift the buoy out of the water would part the picking-up wire.

(cc) I have made a point of never using a slip rope aft. We always lave one stern wire on till the last moment. It takes 3 minutes from the order "Let go aft" to the report "All clear aft". The wire is 6¾" F.S.W.

4. Entering Gibraltar Harbour. Berthing at South Mole.

Rough plan for South Mole, middle large ship berth. Head 145 degrees when berthed.

Approach on a course 120 degrees on the Light at North End of North Mole, at 6 knots.

Use 30 degrees of wheel for turning into North Entrance: ease wheel when swing is established. Look out for wind on her port bow making her sluggish.

Slow both when steady on course about 160 degrees, i.e. parallel to detached Mole. Ship will then be about abreast of North end of Detached Mole.

Head for the Green Flag. (Bridge when berthed).

Watch her steering carefully and use plenty of Rudder.

When abreast South end of Detached Mole or when steadied on the Green Flag (whichever is the later) - Stop Engines.

Look out for current effect, first on her stem and then on her stern while passing the Southern Entrance. Use engines (ahead) if she becomes stubborn.

If possible, stop the ship with the port screws only. If the starboard screws are used astern they will pile up a lot of water between the ship and the wall and wash her broad off. This effect is useful if the stern starts to swing in dangerously, and also for getting away without tugs.

If likely to have too much way to pull up on the Port engines alone, go Half Astern both about 2 cables and stop Starboard as soon as you can.

As the stem approaches the Mole (at a fine angle), it will be swung off by the cushion of water which forms between the starboard bow and the wall. This has probably more effect on bringing her parallel than either Rudder or going astern with the Port engines only.


A very awkward position was reached on one occasion in the following conditions: Wind force 5 - 6 from 300 degrees, and appreciable set through the Southern Entrance.

Berth at South Mole between Nelson and Furious, the latter ship in the outer big ship berth.

As anticipated the bows paid off to port as the ship came abreast the Southern Entrance. No drastic steps were taken to counter this as it was expected that the stern would in turn get a similar kick from wind and current, but I failed to foresee that the bow would by then be in the lee of the Furious and that she would be likely to pay off to Starboard more quickly and strongly than she had done to Port, The result was that I had to stop the ship quickly, (the stem reached within 20 feet of the wall at an angle of about 40 degrees to it) and then point her and sidle in.

5. Berthing at the Detached Mole, Gibraltar.

Head 160 degrees when berthed. The southern Detached Mole berth.

After only six times I have no great confidence in these remarks. It is certainly wise to prepare for the unlikely.

Endeavour should certainly be made to enter the Northern Entrance a little to port of the centre, and inclined two or three degrees towards the Detached Mole. In any case avoid being to port of course 160 degrees.

There is a 34 foot patch close to port after passing though the entrance. On reaching this position, engines have generally been stopped and it is just about here that one wishes to point 8 or 10 degrees to Starboard for berthing. It is also just at this position that "HOOD" shows a strong tendency to swing to port, she is moving slowly with engines stopped and Rudder has no effect on checking this swing. I have never yet counteracted this port swing satisfactorily, even by using the engines strongly.

One one occasion when there was a strong Westerly wind blowing over the Mole, instead of paying her head into the wind (to Starboard) as she lost her way, her normal behaviour, she swung strongly the other way.

I have never been to the Northern berth at this Mole: it is generally regarded as an even more tiresome one to reach satisfactorily.

Caution is necessary when entering the North entrance on account of the current which set across during certain states of the tide. When this set is northerly it makes the ship's turn from 120 degrees sluggish, and will set the ship down towards the northern arm.

6. Leaving Gibraltar Harbour, from the South Mole.

In fine weather and at slack water or neap tides "HOOD" can leave by the southern Entrance comfortably, but owing to her length and the shoal water her bows must pass over when pointing for this entrance, and to the frequency and uncertainty of the set across the entrance, and just inside, the Northern Entrance is recommended as the normal exit for "HOOD".

"HOOD" can generally be sprung off and washed off quite sufficiently without using a Tug.

Slow Ahead Port and Wheel to Starboard starts a good swing in and will bring her on to the Spring, (tended onshore). In calm weather or in a wind blowing her off hold this until her stem is 30 - 40 feet from the wall. Then go Half Astern Starboard. This will start her Astern and wash her broad off. Keep the Port engine going Slow Ahead until pointed well past the South end of the Detached Mole as the astern wash along the wall will, as soon as it reaches the forecastle, check her swing to Starboard and perhaps give her a cant the other way.

If the wind is blowing her on when letting go have a catamaran placed abreast the stem and get sternway on earlier. It may be necessary to have a tug on her stern.

This ship makes a good sternboard, if treated roughly and watched very carefully. Rudder alone is rarely sufficient to check a swing, early use of one engine (ahead) is advisable.

7. Notes on Gibraltar Harbour.

As is well known the current and eddies just outside and through both the North and South entrances are very variable and sometimes at springs, quite strong.

The small plans on the chart of Gibraltar Harbour give some idea of what may be experienced but give no sure guide as to either direction or strength.

(a) A strong northerly set along the outer side of the Detached Mole is not uncommon. Besides setting across the southern entrance this may also set across the northern entrance, being deflected back to the north when it reaches the North Mole.

(b) This north going stream has been felt on occasions (once very strongly) when at about the position where the rudder is put to starboard for turning through the north entrance (i.e. when altering from 120 to 160 degrees). On one occasion the ship turned to starboard very sluggishly and had to be stopped and pointed: on another she got a strong swing to port just before the rudder was put over.

(c) Along the Detached Mole and across the southern entrance the set may be southerly and quite strong.

(d) Just inside the southern entrance a strong set in may be experienced.

(a) and (d), but not necessarily not at the same time, seem to occur at about one hour before HW during springs.

(e) In the entrances and inside the harbour, the apparent direction of the surface current may not be trustworthy information: it is known that the stream at the depth of a few feet may flow at a different strength and in a different direction, sometimes in opposition to that on the surface.

8. Entering Malta Harbour. Berth No. 11, Bighi Bay, head 042°

A. Turning to Starboard.

Approach on a course of 270 degrees at 6 knots.

Slow both at about 2 cables from St. Elmo Light House.

Stop both at 1 cable short of St. Elmo.

Stop the ship, if possible with a slight swing to starboard when the stern is 120 yards from the shore.

Box her round in this position, allowing for drift, to about 010° and make a sternboard to the berth. If any wind place her pivot well to windward of the line of buoys before pointing her to 040°.

Note: When stern on to Ricasoli Light House, (ship's head 340 degrees), the ship will be about 80 yards clear at each end.

B. Turning to Port.

Approach on course 240 degrees at 6 knots.

Port 35 degrees as, or just before, the Bridge is abreast of St. Elmo's Light House. Ease wheel as necessary after swing is established. The ship's behaviour during this turn varies very considerably, a fresh breeze from NW to N being sufficient to make her turn away from the wind very sluggishly and at times necessitating stopping and reversing the port engine.

Steady on "REPULSE's" stern buoy. (No.12a).

Stop the ship, if possible with a little swing to port, when own head buoy is about abreast the after part of the boat deck. The pivot point should then be on the line of the buoys and about in the right spot.

Box her round and correct position as necessary.

Turning to starboard is a safer and easier method and should be used if there is an appreciable Westerly or Northerly wind. Moreover, it is the quicker way of clearing the fairway up Harbour, and slightly quicker to first Bridle shackled on and first wire inboard aft.

One one occasion of turning to port when the wind was N.N.W. 3 - 4 over St. Elmo breakwater, it required Half Astern Port and Full Ahead Starboard to swing her round clear of the Red Spar Buoy off Imbergheb point.

On another occasion (August 1937), due probably to an initial tendency to swing to port, the ship came round to port too quickly, had to be checked and then fetched up too close to the stern buoy. The proper way to correct this is to turn the ship's stern towards Fishmarket and then move her astern and towards the Customs House so as to get well out to the Westward of the berth - then approach the berth again under Port Rudder. Look out for the shoal of water off St. Angelo Spar Buoy.

Like many good looking ladies she is inclined to be wilful, and likes surprising you. Watch her always and very closely . If the moment she gets up to mischief you give her a good hard thump with the engines and helm she will immediately behave lie a perfect lady - like her sex in human form she responds to a heavy hand when she knows she has deserved it!!