HMS Ark Royal (91) - Final Voyage and Sinking - Investigation


Following the sinking, a Board of Inquiry was established to investigate the loss. Based on its findings, Captain Loben Maund was court-martialled for negligence in February 1942. He was found guilty on two counts of negligence: one of failing to ensure that properly constituted damage control parties had remained on board after the general evacuation, and one of failing to ensure the ship was in a sufficient state of readiness to deal with possible damage. The board tempered their judgement with an acknowledgement that a high standard was being expected of Maund, and that he was primarily concerned with the welfare of his crew.

The Bucknill Committee, which had been set up to investigate the loss of major warships, also produced a report. This report said that the lack of backup power sources was a major design failure, which contributed to the loss: Ark Royal depended on electricity for much of her operation, and once the boilers and steam dynamos were knocked out, the loss of power made damage control difficult. The committee recommended the design of the bulkheads and boiler intakes be improved to decrease the risk of widespread flooding in boiler rooms and machine spaces, while the uninterrupted boiler room flat was criticised. The design flaws were rectified in the Illustrious- and Implacable-class carriers, under construction at the time.

The Board of Inquiry closed its report with the observation that Ark Royal had sunk 22 nmi (25 mi; 41 km) east of Europa Point, the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. This was accepted as the wreck location for 60 years.

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