HMS A1


HMS A1

HMS "A1" was the Royal Navy's first British-designed submarine, and their first to suffer fatal casualties.

She was the lead ship of the first British A-class of submarines (a second, much different A (for "Amphion") class submarine appeared towards the end of the Second World War), and the only one to have a single bow torpedo tube. She was actually sunk twice, first in 1904 when she became the first submarine casualty, with the loss of all hands, however she was recovered, but sank again in 1911, this time when she was unmanned. The wreck was discovered in 1989 and is now a protected wreck [ [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/ACHWS_Annual_report_2005.pdf The Advisory Committee for Historic Wreck Sites Annual Report for 2005] ] .

Design and construction

She was an enlarged and improved Holland class submarine - 40 feet (12.2 m) longer than the Royal Navy's five "Holland" boats. The most notable improvement was the addition of a conning tower [http://www.submarineheritage.com/gallery_a1.htm Submarine Heritage Centre] ] . Subsequent A class boats were even larger and differed from her in several respects.

Like all members of her class, she was built at Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness. She was launched on 9 July 1902.

Casualty, recovery, loss and rediscovery

She was accidentally sunk in the Solent on 18 March 1904 whilst carrying out a practice attack on HMS "Juno" by being struck on the starboard side of the conning tower by a mail steamer, SS "Berwick Castle" which was en route from Southampton to Hamburg. She sank in only 39 feet (12 m) of water but the boat flooded and the entire crew were drowned [ [http://www.rnsubmus.co.uk/general/losses.htm#a1 Submarine losses 1904 to present day] RN submarine museum website] . One consequence was that all subsequent Royal Navy submarines were equipped with a watertight hatch at the bottom of the conning tower.

She was raised on 18 April 1904 and repaired and re-entered service. Following a petrol explosion in August 1910, she was converted to a testbed for the Admiralty's Anti-Submarine Committee. She was lost a year later when running submerged but unmanned under automatic pilot. Although the position of her sinking was known at the time, all efforts to locate her were fruitless. It was not until 1989 that the wreck was discovered by a local fisherman at Bracklesham Bay, approximately 5 miles away [ [http://www.culture.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/F47CA311-8CA4-4F43-9DE1-A1FE323AA934/0/achwsreport19992000.pdf Advisory Committee on Historic Wrecks Report for 1999-2000] ] . It is thought that she was only partially flooded when she sank and the resulting partial buoyancy meant that the wreck moved in the strong local currents. The wreck was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act on 26 November 1998 [ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1998/19982708.htm Statutory instrument 1998 no 2708 protecting wreck of HMS A1] ] and redesignated to extend the area covered on 5 October 2004 [ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2004/uksi_20042395_en.pdf Statutory instrument 2004 no 2395] ]

References

External links

* [http://www.rnsubmus.co.uk/ The Royal Navy Submarine Museum]
* [http://www.geoacoustics.com/Application%20Notes/Note_4/Note_4.htm Geoswath sidescan images of the wreck of the A1]
* [http://www.submariners.co.uk/Dits/Articles/firstloss.htm First loss article] from Submariners Association, Barrow in Furness branch
* [http://www.submariners.co.uk/Boats/Barrowbuilt/ABC_Class/index.htm 1902-1910 A, B and C Class] from Submariners Association, Barrow in Furness branch
* [http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/projects/marine/alsf/wrecks_seabed/wrecks/VAR_HMSA1/HMSA1.html Wessex Archaeology] multibeam sonar image of the wreck of HMS A1 surveyed in 2003
* [http://www.hwtma.org.uk/lectures/10_annual_public.pdf#search=%22HMS%20A1%20submarine%22 2001 Annual HWTMA public lecture given by John Bingeman]
* [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pernod/13.html In peril beneath the sea] Hampshire and Dorset shipwrecks website
* [http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/a_class1.htm#A%201 A-class submarines] on Battlecruisers.co.uk
* [http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/great_britain/submarines/pages/a_1902_class/a_1_page_1.htm Photo of A1 in Portsmouth 1903, from MaritimeQuest website]


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