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HMS Sidon (P259)
HMS Sidon.jpg
HMS Sidon
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: S-class submarine
Name: HMS Sidon
Builder: Cammell Laird Shipyard - Birkenhead
Laid down: 7 July 1943
Launched: 4 September 1944
Commissioned: 23 November 1944
Fate: wrecked by own torpedo explosion 16 June 1955
refloated, sunk for target 14 June 1957
General characteristics
Displacement: 814-872 tons surfaced
990 tons submerged
Length: 217 ft (66 m)
Beam: 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)
Draught: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Speed: 14.75 knots (27 km/h) surfaced
8 knots (15 km/h) submerged
Complement: 48 officers and men
Armament: 6 x forward 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, one aft
13 torpedoes
one three-inch (76 mm) gun (four-inch on later boats)
one 20 mm cannon
three .303-calibre machine gun
Notes: File:SIDON badge-1-.jpg
Badge of HMS Sidon

HMS Sidon was a submarine of the Royal Navy, launched in September 1944, one of the third group of S-class submarines built by Cammell Laird & Co Limited, Birkenhead. An explosion caused by a faulty torpedo sank her in Portland Harbour with the loss of 13 lives.


In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[1]

On the morning of 16 June 1955, Sidon was moored alongside the depot ship HMS Maidstone in Portland Harbour. Two 21-inch Mark 12 High test peroxide-powered torpedoes, code-named "Fancy", had been loaded aboard for testing. Fifty-six officers and crewmen were aboard.

At 0825, an explosion in one of the Fancy torpedoes (but not the warhead) burst the number-three torpedo tube it was loaded into and ruptured the forward-most two watertight bulkheads. Fire, toxic gases, and smoke accompanied the blast. Twelve men in the forward compartments died instantly and seven others were seriously injured.

The submarine started to settle by the bows with a list to starboard, and her commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Verry, ordered the submarine evacuated from the engine room and aft escape hatches. Thanks to a rescue party from Maidstone, everyone not immediately killed escaped, except Maidstone's medical officer, Temporary Surgeon Lieutenant Charles Eric Rhodes. He had gone aboard with the rescue party, assisted several survivors, and suffocated because he was using a DSEA set that he had not been trained to use. At about 0850 Sidon sank to the bottom of the harbour. On 1 November 1955 Rhodes was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal for putting his life in danger to save others.[2]

One week later the wreck was raised and towed into a causeway on Chesil Beach. The bodies of the 13 casualties were removed and buried with full honours in the Portland Royal Naval Cemetery overlooking the harbour.

A Court of Inquiry cleared anyone aboard Sidon for the loss of the boat. The direct cause of the accident was determined to have been malfunctioning of the "Fancy" torpedo. A torpedo being readied for the morning test shot had begun a "hot-run" - its engine had started while it was still inside the submarine and was over-speeding, creating very high pressures in its fuel system. The "Fancy" torpedo used high test peroxide (HTP) as an oxidizer. When an oxidizer line burst, HTP sprayed onto the copper fittings inside the torpedo, decomposing into oxygen and steam. The torpedo's warhead did not detonate, but its hull burst violently, rupturing the torpedo tube and causing the flooding that destroyed the boat. The torpedo programme was terminated and the torpedoes taken out of use by 1959.[3]

Sidon was refloated, then sunk to act as an ASDIC target on 14 June 1957.[4]

On the 50th Anniversary of the Sidon accident, 16 June 2005, the Dorset Branch of the Submariners Association erected a Memorial Stone to those who died. This is situated adjacent to the War Memorial at Portland, opposite the Portland Heights Hotel. A number of survivors and relatives of those who died in the accident attended the ceremony.

On 18 January 2003, Deepquest Sub Sea announced that they intend to raise HMS Sidon.[5]

See also

  • Submarines destroyed by hot-running torpedoes:
Russian submarine K-141 Kursk
Possibly USS Scorpion (SSN-589).


  1. Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  2. "No. 40621". 1 November 1955. 
  4. Marshall, Geoff (July 2008 - Volume 28 Number 4). "The Loss of the HMS Sidon". Submarines Association Australia. Retrieved 2 Sep 2010. 
  5. HMS Sidon,


  • Innes McCartney (2002). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel. 

External links

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