Sinking Ships

SMS Hindenburg sinking at Scapa Flow, 1919

From Reactions: Church of England’s House of Laity drops the ball

The Church of England’s General Synod defeated legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops. We will be rounding up reaction in this item.

The picture is meant to represent the future of the Church of England. “Justin” is Justin Welby, just appointed as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and hence head of the C of E.

This is a significant piece of church news, but on seeing the picture Glenn the concerned Episcopalian was immediately pushed aside by Glenn the amateur naval historian. My thoughts were something like:

That is not a British ship. That is a German battle cruiser of the superb Derfflinger class, sinking after being scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919.

Checking the comments confirmed that the picture was of the Derfflinger’s sister ship S.M.S. Hindenburg. The third of the class, S.M.S. Lützow. was sunk at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, but the picture does not look like a battle scene and there was no sign of battle damage. Even with just the upper works still visible, there should been some sign of the tremendous battering the Lützow had received from the British battleships there.

Scuttling the German fleet had been forbidden by the Armistice terms, since some of the allies had hoped to receive ships from it as prizes of war. To Germans, humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles, the scuttle was widely seen as a justifiable final act of defiance, restoring the honor of the surrendered but undefeated fleet. It was a carefully planned and perfectly executed action. For more information on these events see Dan van der Vat’s excellent book The Grand Scuttle.

Knowing this, and the German history that followed, I question whether this was the best sinking ship to use as an image for the current state of the Church of England.

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