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Thetis (N25)

Built By: Cammell Laird (Mersey)
Build Group: T Group 1
Fate: 1 June 1939 - Foundered whilst on trials in Liverpool bay.
Salvaged and became Thunderbolt 1/6/39. As a result of her demise the Thetis bolt was invented and fitted to all rear tube doors.


Perhaps the most famous of the early T Class submarines was the ill-fated Thetis. Sailing, prior to handover, in Liverpool Bay on the morning of 1st June, 1939, Thetis had on board her 53-man crew and 50 passengers (Shipyard and Admiralty men concerned with the trials).

For her trial dive, Thetis was reluctant to submerge, and so her six bow tubes were checked. When Numbers 1 to 4 were correctly found empty, Numbers 5 and 6 were tested to confirm that each contained seawater. The test cock of No 6 tube squirted water but, strangely, the test cock of No 5 did not, and so was apparently empty. As there was only one way to be sure, the door was opened - and the sea roared in. Jammed by one of its clips, the watertight door couldn't be closed and, as two compartments flooded, Thetis nose-dived to the seabed 160 feet below,

With her stern protruding from the waves. Thetis remained undiscovered for a whole day and, although four men managed to escape, she became a tomb for the 99 men on board - despite the efforts of rescuers.

When Thetis was raised in November 1939, an investigation into the cause of this tragic accident revealed an incorrectly-wired bow cap indicator - showing the bow cap to be shut when it was open - and that the vital test cock was blocked with paint. To avoid any suggestion of a jinx on the boat, the Admiralty refitted and commissioned her, in November 1940, as Thunderbolt and, as an epitaph to her 'previous life', she entered service with a diagonal rusty line on her hull that could not be hidden.

Related Pages
Thunderbolt (N25)Read
Boat Database
 
The Thetis Disaster Relief FundRead
The following chronicles the communication between the Chairman of the Barrow Branch of The Submariners Association and the office of The Lord mayor of London.
 
The Loss of HMS ThetisRead
On Thursday 1st June 1939 the brand new submarine HMS Thetis (Lieutenant Commander Guy H Bolus) sailed from the Birkenhead Yard of Cammell Laird into Liverpool Bay to carry out diving trials. In addition to the normal crew of fifty five Officers and Ratings there were a large number of passengers both uniformed personnel and civilians on board for Trials purposes. This took the total number of personnel onboard the Submarine up to one hundred and one. During the dive difficulties were encountered with the trim of the submarine.
 

Events

21-12-1936 : Laid Down
29-06-1938 : Launched
01-06-1939 : Sailing, prior to handover, in Liverpool Bay on the morning of 1st June, 1939, Thetis had on board her 53-man crew and 50 passengers (Shipyard and Admiralty men concerned with the trials). Thetis nose-dived to the seabed 160 feet below, With her stern protruding from the waves. Thetis remained undiscovered for a whole day and, although four men managed to escape, she became a tomb for the 99 men on board.
01-11-1940 : Completed


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