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K13 crew are remembered at HM Naval Base Clyde

31 January 2022
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Royal Navy personnel from HM Naval Base Clyde remembered those who lost their lives when Royal Navy submarine, K13 sank in the Gareloch on January 29, 1917.

The memorial service held at Faslane Cemetery on Sunday, January 30 was attended by Royal Navy, West of Scotland Submariners Association and Helensburgh Sea Cadets.

A small gathering was also held at the K13 memorial in Elder Gardens in Govan on Saturday, January 29. This being the dockyard where the K13 was built and launched on November 11, 1916. Wreaths were laid by members of the West of Scotland Submariners Association and representatives from HMNB Clyde.

Reverend Mark Noakes, Chaplain of the Submarine Flotilla, led the service at Faslane Cemetery, which was attended by Captain Irvine Lindsay, Captain of the Submarine Flotilla.

During the poignant service wreaths were laid. Captain Lindsay laying one on behalf of the Royal Navy. In addition, the K13 ship’s bell was rung 32 times – once for each person who lost their lives in 1917.

“Service in those early submarines took great courage and those of us currently serving look to their example of sacrifice and duty with humility and deep respect.  They were genuine pioneers,” said Captain Lindsay. 

“It’s a simple but moving ceremony and once again it has been my privilege to represent serving submariners at the annual K13 memorial in the company of members of the West of Scotland Submarine Association and local Sea Cadets.”

The steam-propelled submarine K13 sank in the Gareloch on January 29, 1917 during sea trials.  On board at the time were fifty-three Royal Navy submariners, fourteen employees of Govan shipbuilder Fairfield’s, five Admiralty officials, a pilot, and the captain and engineer from sister submarine K14.

Service in those early submarines took great courage and those of us currently serving look to their example of sacrifice and duty with humility and deep respect. They were genuine pioneers.

Captain Lindsay

Andy Knox, former Submarine Command Warrant officer and Chair of the West of Scotland Submariner Association said: “The Submariners Association take great pride in remembering the 32 people who tragically lost their lives on that fateful afternoon on January 29, 1917. 

“Two remembrance events take place every year without fail. The first at the K13 memorial in Elder Park, Govan. The second is held at Faslane cemetery, a stone’s throw away from HMNB Clyde, this is the final resting place of Commander Francis Herbert Goodhart DSO (Commanding Officer of K14 and onboard as an observer) alongside the crew and civilian staff from Fairfield’s.

He continued: “Although this was a great tragedy in the history of the Submarine Service, 42 personnel were rescued from the sunken K13 and lots of valuable lessons were learned for the future of Submarine escape.”

The crew of K13 were trapped beneath the icy waters of the Gareloch for some 57-hours before help 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 in order to get help.

The pair used the space between the inner and outer hatches as an airlock, but only Herbert made it to the surface alive, Goodhart sadly dying after striking his head during the escape.

An airline was eventually attached to the vessel allowing the submarine to bring her bow to the surface where a hole was cut allowing the survivors to be rescued.  Unfortunately, by that time 32 submariners had already perished.

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

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