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Bill Radke

Paul Allen using huge private yacht to recover sunken history

Allen's team arrived at the site above the HMS Hood on Thursday. (Image courtesy Twitter)

It's not so bad being a billionaire-playboy-renaissance man of adventure. Microsoft's Paul Allen is using his abundance of resources for some pretty spectacular quests.

In his latest, Allen is sending his 400-foot yacht, the Octopus, to salvage a bell from British warship the HMS Hood that was sunk by Hitler.

On Thursday, Allen tweeted they'd arrived at the dive location above the wreckage of the HMS Hood in the Denmark Straight.

"Arrived Hood location, hopefully seas remain calm enough to launch ROV."

In 1941, the British ship was sent to stop Germany's Bismarck before it could break out into the Atlantic where it planned to attack Allied convoys.

But between Greenland and Iceland, the Bismarck struck first, hitting the battlecruiser with German shells, causing it to explode. The ship sank in just three minutes, and resulted in the biggest single loss of lives, 1,418 officers and crew, in the Royal Navy's history.

The Daily Mail reports the wreck is a protected war grave, but Allen has obtained permission from the British government for the expedition.

If recovery of the 110 pound bell is successful, it will go to Navy's National Museum in Portsmouth.

A remotely operated vehicle is diving to the location from Allen's yacht to retrieve the bell. Allen reported the ROV was in the water as of Thursday morning.

He has tweeted several updates on the mission's progress:

11:56am: Recovering ROV to fix issues...another dive in a few hours hopefully, we did verify we are on the right spots and saw pieces of HMS Hood.

8:20am: Re-positioning ROV due to strong current. Me, David Mearns, Innes McCartney, Philip Wilcocks with a model of the Hood.

4:30am: "ROV now has sea bed in view depth 2849 Meters....small starfish and urchins on the bottom."

3:30am: ROV control room. ROV now at 1525 M, more than half way there, another hour to bottom.

2:30am: ROV enters the waters of the Denmark straight a half hour ago.

2:20am: ROV sub camera launched now at 250M two hours until bottom of HMS hood resting place.

You can follow the progress of the mission live on Allen's twitter account.


Bill Radke, KIRO Radio Anchor
Bill Radke is host of Seattle's Morning News on KIRO Radio (weekdays 5-9) and has been known to sing hits from sensitive singer-songwriters of the 1970s in the newsroom.
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About Bill Radke
Bill is co-host of Seattle's Morning news, 5-9, on 97.3 KIRO FM. Bill is well known in the Northwest as a journalist, author, comedian, and talk show host. Radke started his career at KIRO as an intern in 1983. He recently returned home from Los Angeles.

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