At our August meeting the Club welcomed David Otley from the Gosport Submarine Museum who presented HMS Alliance one of 14 Amphion Class submarines built for service in the far east during World War 2.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour the Royal Navy required a submarine class suited to long-range patrols in the Pacific Ocean. The “A” class was ordered under an emergency war programme and the initial requirement for 46 boats was issued in 1943. Only 14 boats would be fully completed.
HMS Alliance, the seventh boat of the class, was built at Vickers Armstrong, Barrow in Furness and launched in July 1945. She was 85.8m long with a beam of 6.8m and a draught of 5.2m. Two 2,150 horsepower Vickers supercharged diesel engines and two 625 horsepower electric motors enabled a speed of 18.5 knots on the surface and up to 8 knots submerged. She was one of the first boats fitted with a snorkel mast at launch, which enabled submerged running on diesel power. Armaments included two deck guns, four torpedo tubes forward, two aft and up to 20 torpedoes.
Her crew complement initially numbered 61. Images of the forward torpedo compartment, accommodation section, control room, heads, galley and engine room gave an excellent insight into the cramped conditions and life onboard. Restricted use of fresh water onboard dominated many procedures and the galley took priority. No onboard laundry meant no changes of clothes for an entire patrol and minimal washing facilities.
Escape hatches located at both ends of the submarine gave some possibility of escape in waters depths up to 100 metres. Escape procedure was practiced at HMS Dolphin early in a submariners career to ensure candidates had the correct aptitude for life onboard.
The role of the submarine changed in the post war period from attacking surface shipping to the covert hunting other enemy submarines. In 1958 Alliance underwent modernisation and the conning tower and guns were replaced by a fin that completely covered her periscopes when dived.
Since 1981 HMS Alliance has been a museum ship, raised out of the water and on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, and serves as a memorial to those British submariners who have died in service.