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HMS Porpoise (N14)
File:HMS Porpoise-1-.jpg
HMS Porpoise
Name: HMS Porpoise
Ordered: 11 June 1931
Builder: Vickers Armstrong, Barrow
Laid down: 22 September 1931
Launched: 30 August 1932
Commissioned: 11 March 1933
Fate: sunk 19 January 1945
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,768 tons surfaced
2,035 tons submerged
Length: 289 ft (88 m)
Beam: 29 ft 10 in (9.09 m)
Draught: 15 ft 10 in (4.83 m)
Propulsion: 2 shaft, Diesel (3300 hp) plus electric (1630 hp)
Speed: 15.5 knots surfaced
8.75 knots submerged
Complement: 59
Armament: 6 x 21 in torpedo tubes (bow)
12 torpedoes
1 x 4 inch deck gun
50 mines

HMS Porpoise (N14) was one of the six ship class of Grampus-class mine-laying submarine of the Royal Navy. She was built at Vickers Armstrong, Barrow and launched August 30, 1932. She served in World War II in most of the naval theatres of the war, in home waters, the Mediterranean and the far east. She was sunk by Japanese aircraft on January 19, 1945, and was the last Royal Navy submarine to be lost to enemy action.


In 1940 she was operating in the North Sea. She unsuccessfully attacked the German submarine U-3, and later sunk the German minesweeper M 5 when she hit a mine laid by Porpoise. She reported firing on an unknown submarine, which may have been U-1 which disappeared about this time. However U-1 may have hit a mine laid by Porpoise's sister, HMS Narwhal. Throughout late 1941 and 1942, Porpoise operated in the Mediterranean. In December, she torpedoed and heavily damaged the Italian passenger / cargo ship Sebastiano Venier which was later grounded and wrecked. The Sebastiano Venier was transporting more than 1,800 Allied Prisoners of War. Despite bad weather almost 1,700 of these were rescued. Porpoise then returned to minelaying off Crete.

In 1942, she sank the Italian merchant Citta di Livorno and later the Italian transport Ogaden, but missed the escorting Italian torpedo boat, Montanari. Porpoise went on to torpedo and sink the Italian merchant Lerici, and unsuccessfully attacked the merchant Iseo, during which she was damaged by depth charges from the escorting ships. Towards the end of the year she sank the Italian tanker Giulio Giordani and the auxiliary patrol vessel F-39 / Fertilia, several days after an earlier attack on the ship had failed. The Italian torpedo boat Generale Antonio Cantore struck a mine laid by Porpoise and was also sunk.

1944 found Porpoise operating in the Pacific against Japanese forces. She directly sank several small sailing vessels, whilst the Japanese auxiliary submarine chasers Cha 8 and Cha 9, the army tanker Takekun Maru and the auxiliary minelayer Ma 1 were sunk after hitting mines laid by Porpoise. The auxiliary minesweeper Kyo Maru No. 1 and the submarine chaser Ch 57 were damaged by mines.[1]


On 19 January 1945 HMS Porpoise was laying mines in the vicinity of Penang. The signal received from the submarine confirming that this had been successfully carried out was the last contact made. Japanese records show that a submarine was spotted and bombed by aircraft in the vicinity of Penang. Although not destroyed in this attack, the submarine was damaged and leaking oil, that left a trail for the Japanese anti-submarine forces to follow, and it is likely that she was sunk shortly after by anti-submarine aircraft.[2]


  1. HMS Porpoise,
  2. Submarine losses 1904 to present day - Page 8, RN Submarine Museum, Gosport

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