Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Submarines HMS H5 & USS H-5: Built in Canada for Great Brittain and Imperial Russia, Respectively

17 miles off the west coast of Anglesey, Mar 6 2006 - "Flowers were taken out to sea and strewn on the waves and a prayer was said in memory of the men," Lifeboat crew's moving tribute to the tragic victims of submarine H5. A medium-sized coastal defence submarine, HMS H5 was patrolling the Irish Sea on surface patrol when rammed by the British merchantman SS Rutherglen who believed the submarine was an enemy U-boat. Cries were heard in the water and a strong smell of petrol was also present. The British Admiralty ordered Rutherglen to leave the scene and never told the crew of the mistake. Instead, they were given a bounty for sinking a German U-boat. (Hat tip: The Sub Report)

Twenty-six of the March 2, 1918, victims were British. The other was Lt. Earle Wayne Childs - the first American submariner killed in European and world conflicts. Lt. Childs was lost at sea while serving as observor aboard British submarine, H5, when it was struck and went down with all hands.

HMS H5 had been one of twenty US H-4 design submarines contracted by Electric Boat (fifty per cent owned by Vickers) to be built at the Canadian Vickers Shipyard near Montreal after the American government threatened to take Electric Boat to court for violation of American neutrality laws over original plans to build them in the U.S.

Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, fully appreciated that secretly adding twenty submarines to the Royal Navy in under of six months would be a military coup for Brittain.
The project was kept secret without the consent of, or official knowledge of Ottawa. Eventually the British Foreign Office would advise the Canadian Government that Canadian Vickers had been commandeered by the Admiralty to build submarines for the RN.

The photo shows HMS H5 (commanded by Cromwell H. Varley, RN) just returned from torpedoing U-boat U51 (14 July 1916). 'H' class subs were a commercial success for EB with the outbreak of the WWW1, according to experts.

The Imperial Russian Navy ordered 18 H-class submarines from Electric Boat Company in 1915. Twelve were delivered and shipment of the final six was delayed by the Russian Revolution of 1917. The final six boats were stored in knockdown condition at Vancouver, British Columbia. All six were eventually purchased by the United States Navy on 20 May 1918 and assembled at Puget Sound Navy Yard. H-5 (SS-148) was launched on 24 September 1918, and commissioned on 30 September 1918, Lieutenant Gordon Hutchins commanding.

Submarines are always silent and strange, even old ones.


At 09 March, 2006 02:37, Blogger Bubblehead said...

Good post -- but where's your "happy blogiversary to me" post?


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