Royal Navy submariners past and present gathered on Sunday, January 29 to remember those who lost their lives when Royal Navy submarine, K13, sank in the Gareloch on the same day in 1917.

It has been three years since there was a proper and deserved memorial weekend, with only small ceremonies taking place each year that Covid restrictions were in place. This years’ memorial service held at Faslane Cemetery in Garelochhead saw things return to normal and was attended by serving members of the Royal Navy, West of Scotland Submariners Association and Helensburgh Sea Cadets.

Reverend Rob Church, Chaplain of the Submarine Flotilla led the service at Faslane Cemetery, which was attended by Commodore (Cdre) Paul Dunn, Commodore of the Submarine Flotilla and Commander (Cdr) Peter Noblett, Naval Base Executive Officer. During the poignant service Cdre Dunn and Cdr Noblett laid wreaths 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.

Cdre Dunn said: “This weekend is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice previous generations of submariners made and how we must ensure their legacy is never forgotten. “As we commemorate the loss of K13, it is with real pride that I represent the serving submariners who owe a deep gratitude to those who came before us and helped shape the modern submarine force of today.”

There was also a gathering at Elder Gardens in Govan where K13 was built and launched on 11th November 1916. A member of the Royal Marine Band Scotland played the bugle while wreaths were laid at the K13 memorial by members of the West of Scotland Submariners Association and representatives from HMNB Clyde.

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.

Andy Knox, former Submarine Service Warrant officer and Chair of the West of Scotland Submariners Association said: “The K13 memorial weekend is the biggest event held by the West of Scotland Submariners Association and is of great importance to not only veteran submariners but serving as well.” “It remains imperative that as a community we continue to remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This year’s event was by far the best attended by, not only the submarine community, but the local people of Helensburgh and Garelochhead. The event was supported by the newly formed Submarine Family who kindly awarded a generous grant to assist with the weekends’ events.”

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 air line 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.


ROYAL NAVY MEDIA RELEASE Monday, 30 January 2023, HMNBC 02/23

Sent by: Royal Navy, Communications & Influence (RNCI) Regional Press Office (Scotland & Northern Ireland), HM
Naval Base Clyde.