HMS Hermes Expedition

HMS Hermes Expedition

Perfectly bombed aircraft carrier in shallow waters!

  • Built: 1918
  • Sunk: 9 April, 1942
  • Max Depth: 60 meters
  • Position: Port Side Down
  • Location: Batticoloa, Sri Lanka

Why The HMS Hermes?

HMS Hermes was a British aircraft carrier built for the Royal Navy and was the world's first ship to be designed as an aircraft carrier and sunk in such shallow waters


HMS Hermes is a fascinating and historic WWII shipwreck located off of Sri Lanka’s East Coast. She was the first purpose built aircraft carrier the world had seen, laid down in 1918 and commissioned in 1923. She had a distinguished career in the Far East which eventually ended in April 1942 when she was caught by aircraft from the Japanese Carrier Fleet comprising Soryu, Hiryu and Akagi, of Pearl Harbour fame, ships that would meet their own violent ending at the Battle of Midway just two months later.

In February 1941, the ship supported Commonwealth forces in Italian Somaliland during the East African Campaign and did much the same two months later in the Persian Gulf during the Anglo-Iraqi War. After that campaign, Hermes spent most of the rest of the year patrolling the Indian Ocean. She was refitted in South Africa between November 1941 and February 1942 and then joined the Eastern Fleet at Ceylon.

Hermes was berthed in Trincomalee on 8 April when a warning of an Indian Ocean raid by the Japanese fleet was received, and she sailed that day for the Maldives with no aircraft on board. On 9 April a Japanese scout plane spotted her near Batticaloa, and she was attacked by several dozen dive bombers shortly afterwards. With no air cover, the carrier was quickly sunk by the Japanese aircraft. Most of the survivors were rescued by a nearby hospital ship, although 307 men from Hermes were lost in the sinking.

HMS Hermes Expedition

When, Where and Why She Sank

The attack went down in history as one of the most accurate bombings of a ship ever seen as she was caught without fighter escort by some eighty Japanese aircraft, the majority of which scored hits on the ship.  

She lost her Captain R.J.Onslaw, 19 officers and 282 Royal Navy Sailors. She had taken 40 direct hits and became a floating coffin. About 23 survivors managed their way to the shore another 400 were rescued by a Hospital ship.

HMS Hermes Expedition

HMS Victoria - 60m Below The Surface

She now lies port side down in 60m of water off shore from Batticoloa. As such, she is genuinely one of a kind, so few aircraft carriers have ever sunk in such shallow water that this fact alone makes her an incredibly unusual wreck.

HMS Hermes Expedition


Contact  through email with the reference *HMS Hermes Expedition & your name*

1. We will send you the Expedition Itinerary with the following: 

  • Technical diving pre-requisites
  • Medical clearance
  • Insurance documents
  • Accommodation referrals

2. Once you have read through all the requirements, constant communication will occur in accordance to your booking and dates available.

We hope you will be able to explore this incredible wreck with us!

Email address :
Telephone: +356 2138 4453
HMS Hermes Expedition
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