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Submariners gather to remember Gareloch tragedy

30 January 2018
Royal Navy submariners past and present gathered on Sunday, January 28, to remember those who had died during the tragic sinking of early submarine K13.

The ceremony, which was held at The Church of St John the Evangelist in Faslane, was attended by serving submariners from HM Naval Base Clyde and by veterans from the Submariners Association, including President Rear Admiral Niall Kilgour CB. 

Association members from as far afield as Barrow-in-Furness, Manchester and Nottingham came to pay their respects with members of the West of Scotland Branch proud to take the lead in the memorial. 

Also in attendance were members of the local Royal British Legion Scotland, local Sea Cadets and members of Argyll and Bute Council. 

Submarine K13 sank in the Gareloch on January 29, 1917, while conducting sea trials.  On board were 53 Royal Navy submariners, 14 employees from Govan Shipbuilder Fairfields, five Admiralty officials, a pilot, and the captain and engineer from sister submarine K14.

The crew of K13 were trapped beneath the freezing waters of the Gareloch for 57-hours before help finally arrived.

Captain of the vessel, Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Herbert, and K14’s captain, Commander Francis Goodhart, made a desperate attempt to escape the stricken submarine and get help.

The brave pair planned to use the space between the inner and outer hatches as an airlock, but only Herbert made it to the surface alive.  Goodhart sadly died after striking his head whilst escaping.  He was later found trapped in the superstructure of the submarine. 

Using Herbert’s expert knowledge of the submarine, an air-line was eventually attached to the vessel allowing the submarine to raise her bow to the surface where a hole was cut enabling the survivors to be rescued.  Tragically, by that time 32 people had already perished.

K13 was later raised from the Gareloch and returned to service as submarine HMS K22.

During the poignant service at Faslane the memorial bell was rung 32 times to remember those who lost their lives in 1917.

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