HMS Royal Oak Decorated with New White Ensign

Members of the Royal UK Navy’s Northern Diving Unit, based at HM Naval Base Clyde near Glasgow, have successfully replaced the White Ensign on HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow.

The flag exchange ceremony has been made in advance of commemoration events on Tuesday (October 14) to mark the 75th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak.

HMS Royal Oak sank in Scapa Flow on October 14, 1939 with the loss of 834 lives after being hit by torpedoes from German U-Boat U-47.

Launched in 1914 and in service in 1916, the Revenge-Class battleship saw service in the First World War, including the Battle of Jutland. The torpedo strikes which claimed the ship and so many lives were delivered barely a month into World War 2.

As well as replacing the White Ensign, which ‘flies’ at the stern of the ship, the divers will also undertake a routine annual survey of the wreck to ensure that the ship maintains minimal impact on the important and sensitive environment of Scapa Flow.

It is thought that the 75th commemoration, organised by the HMS Royal Oak Survivors Association and the Royal British Legion Scotland, will be the last major memorial event to the sinking of HMS Royal Oak, though smaller services will continue in future.

Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Bangor is also in Orkney this weekend and will open her upper deck to the public in Kirkwall Harbour from 10am to 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday. She will sail overnight from Kirkwall to Scapa on Monday October 13.

Press Release, October 10, 2014; Image: UK Navy

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