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Built By: Fairfield (Clyde)
Build Group: K Group 1
Fate: K13 which sank on 29th January 1917 when carrying out Acceptance Trials in the Gareloch off shore of the Shandon Hydropathic Hotel. Shortly after lunch the Submarine dived to carry out some final checks when the after end of the Submarine was flooded through the Engine Room Ventilators which had failed to shut properly. All personnel in the after part of the submarine were drowned.

The survivors from the front end of Submarine K13 were rescued on 31st January. The Submarine was raised on 15th March 1917 and was refitted and returned to service as K22.

Scrapped in December 1926.

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The gargantuan steam submarines were treated as a joke by the hardened veterans of the Submarine Service when they first appeared. But on the fateful afternoon of January 29th, 1917 the K boats suddenly developed a new and more sinister reputation. From that day onwards 'K' stood for Killer. And by apt coincidence the drama featured No 13.
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K13 was carrying out her final acceptance trials prior to the Admiralty officially taking her over from her Clydeside builders. She had already covered the measured mile at a record 23" knots to gain the honour of the world's fastest submarine and there was a festive air about the pre-diving lunch which continued to 3:15 pm. And as she glided slowly down to the diving area in Gareloch she was carrying not only her regular crew of 53 officers and men but also 14 directors and employees of Fairfield, 13 other civilians, and two Royal Navy submarine officers acting as observers. When she arrived at the loch she picked up two more civilian experts. She dived smoothly enough but to Lt-Cdr Herbert's consternation she refused to trim level at 20 feet and continued plunging toward the bottom.
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A Survivor Of K13 - It must "be clearly understood, by all those who read my War Experiences, that, they were only written under pressure from my relatives and also the Friends I made during the Great War. They all tell me that my experiences are so varied that they deem it my duty that I should try and write them in Book Form. I think myself that my effort should prove very interesting to everyone and instructive to the younger generation.


  • Commander Godfrey Herbert
  • Lieutenant Paris Graham Singer
  • Lieutenant (E) Leonard Chichester Rideal
  • CPO Reginald Atkinson O/N 233659
  • PO Robert Oscar Moth 220366
  • PO Robert William Nicholls 195631
  • PO Stanley Albert White 220128
  • L/Sea Charles Frederick Osborne 225038
  • L/Sea Robert Henry Hudd 231390
  • L/Sea Arthur Travers 238252
  • AB James Patrick O’Regan 238673
  • AB Frank Harry Byrnes J5561
  • AB Albert Knight J373
  • AB Arthur Henry Kirk 235218
  • AB Henry John George Akers 195047
  • AB Ernest Edward Stevens J5146
  • AB Henry William Frederick Mackrell J26655
  • AB Richard John Pring Wattley J16437
  • AB Robert Young J10983
  • AB Thomas Arnold Guthrie J8959
  • AB George Edmondson O/N 228678
  • L/Sig Arthur Reginald Riley J21077
  • L/Tel Charles Albert Harry Freestone J15536
  • Boy Tel Joseph Swift J44055
  • ERA Owen Charles Lewis M3716
  • CERA Albert Denne M4470
  • SPO Charles Smith 302886 (Po)
  • Sto Ernest Alfred Smith K19554
  • Sto George Baker O/N K7178
  • Frederick W Searle, Admiralty Ship Overseer
  • Edward Hepworth, Admiralty Overseer (Boilers)
  • William Hancock, Admiralty Overseer
  • Robert Lake, Brotherhoods Ltd
  • Frederick C Cocks, RCNC
  • Prof. Percy Hillhouse, Fairfield Chief Engineer
  • Edward Skinner, Fairfield Electrical Department
  • William MacLean, Fairfield
  • Donald Hood, Fairfield
  • Frank Bullen, Fairfield
  • John Green, Fairfield Mechanical Foreman
  • Henry Kerr, Fairfield
  • William Struthers, Fairfield
  • Edward Powney, Chadburns of Liverpool
  • Donald Renfrew Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird
  • Sidney Black Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird
  • William Williams, Brown Brothers (Boilers)
  • Captain Joseph Duncan, Clyde Pilot

The Civilian dead from the accident are commemorated on a memorial drinking fountain erected by the Fairfield Company in Elder Park – opposite the site of the Fairfield Building Yard on the Clyde. The Civilian Staff who died in the accident are as listed below:

Roll of Honour

Name Rank Number Hons Age
Bevis, George William  Stoker  K 8719    25
Bradley, Tom  Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class  272472    24
Clark, Stephen Clutson  Acting Leading Stoker  K 5824    25
Cornish, Herbert  Stoker  K 9219    22
Dickinson, John  Stoker  K11895 (Po)    24
Dymond, Ridgeway  Stoker  K14330    23
Fenson, Walter Abraham  Chief Stoker  297570 (Ch)    34
Fieldwick, George William  Stoker Petty Officer  301111    35
Goddard, Henry Charles  Stoker  K20432    22
Goodhart, Francis Herbert Heaveningham  Commander      32
Hallihan, Timothy  Stoker  K12408    24
Hole, Frederick Stephen  Admiralty Overseers Assistant (Civilian)     
Hooper, Richard  Stoker  K 9871    24
Howard, Frederick James  Leading Stoker  K 9207    24
Kirk, James  Engine Fitter (Civilian)     
Lane, Arthur Ernest  Engineer Lieutenant     
Lewis, William John  Engine Fitter (Civilian)     
Mitchell, Thomas  Leading Stoker  302275    36
Neate, Frank Thomas  Foreman Electrician (Civilian)     
Porter, Frederick Raymond  Petty Officer  171745  DSM  39
Pratt, Herbert  Bosun  Ex203959    33
Roberts, John Arthur  Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class  1629/EA    29
Born Perth, Western Australia 15/12/1887
Roberts, William   Stoker  K1715 (Dev)    26
Scarlett, Alfred  Stoker  K/12902    23
Simpson, Horace  Stoker  K 4303 (Dev)    25
Smith, Frederick William George  Chief Engine Room Artificer  270355    38
Smith, William Chalmers  Engine Fitter (Civilian)     
Steel, John P  Engine Fitter (Civilian)     
Strachan, William Alfred  Engine Fitter (Civilian)     
White, Leonard  Stoker  K15229    26
Williams, Robert William  Able Seaman  J3706    25
Williamson, George Jenkins  Stoker Petty Officer  229331    29


01-10-1915 : Laid Down
11-11-1916 : Launched
29-01-1917 : Just after noon HMS K13, on trials in the Gareloch, signaled to nearby HMS E50 her intention to dive. As the submarine submerged the engine room began to flood. The submarine became uncontrollable and came to rest on the bottom with the engine room and after torpedo room flooded.

The crew of E50 witnessing K13's rapid dive closed in on the area discovering traces of oil and escaping air breaking the surface. The first rescue vessel arrived around midnight. Divers were sent down to inspect the submarine and just after daybreak on the 30th morse signals were exchanged between the divers and the trapped crew. At 1700 an airline was successfully connected, empty air bottles recharged and ballast tanks blown. With the aid of a hawser slung under her bows K13 was brought to within 8 feet of the surface. By midday of the 31st K13's bow had been raised ten feet above the water. By 2100 the pressure hull had been breached using oxyacetylene cutting equipment the survivors being transferred to safety. K13 was finally raised on 15th March, refitted and returned to service as HMS K22.
18-10-1917 : Completed

1 comment

Many thanks for the list of survivors of the K13 submarine. My husband's grandfather was a survivor of this incident. We have both searched the internet many times for a list of survivors, without success. Today I have spent over 3 hours searching and have stumbled on this web-site!
   Sandra Smith Thu, 9 Sep 2021

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