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VETERANS and serving Royal Navy submariners gathered recently to remember those lost during an early maritime disaster.


Submarine K13 sank during sea trials on the Gareloch on January 29, 1917, leading to the tragic death of 32 people on board.


Over the weekend of January 27-28, the West of Scotland branch of the Submariners Association commemorated the 107th anniversary of the K13 disaster. The event was supported by the Barrow-In-Furness, Essex, Dolphin, and Scottish branches of the Association who headed to HM Naval Base Clyde to join members of HMS Neptune, Submarine Flotilla, Submarine Qualification Course (North), RM Band Scotland, and the Clydebank and Helensburgh Sea Cadets. As in previous years the event was also supported through funding by The Submarine Family.


A service of remembrance was held on Saturday 27, led by Reverend Stephen Dray in Elder Park, Govan, adjacent to Fairfield’s Shipbuilding where K13 was built, followed by a visit to the Fairfield’s Heritage Centre.


On the Sunday, there was a short service in the base church prior to the memorial service at Faslane Cemetery, where the majority of the crew that perished are buried. Alongside the serving and veteran submariners attending, was Mr Alistair Swift who had travelled from Aberdeen. Alistair’s Grandfather, Joe Swift survived the sinking of K13.


The Submariners Association’s Andy Knox, said: “The weekend’s events were truly humbling and a reminder of the importance of the history of the Submarine Service and the sacrifices of those that served and paid the ultimate price in support of their country.”


“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Base Executive Officer, Commander Peter Noblett, Base Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer 1 Lee Morgan) and CPO Murray Anderson for the generous support, enabling the weekend’s events to be hugely successful.”


The steam-propelled submarine sank on the Gareloch after seawater entered her engine room.


There was a total of 80 people on board at the time – 53 Royal Navy personnel, 14 Fairfield’s employees, five sub-contractors, five Admiralty officials, river Clyde pilot Joseph Duncan, and two crew from sister-submarine K14.


A frantic 57-hour rescue mission followed with Captain of K13, Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Herbert, and Captain of K14, Commander Francis Goodhart, attempting to escape the vessel to aid the surface rescue attempt.


Sadly, Commander Goodhart died after hitting his head on the vessel’s superstructure and drowning. 


Eventually an airline was attached allowing the bow of the submarine to rise to the surface and a hole to be cut in the casing to evacuate the 48 survivors.


During the service, the ship’s bell from K13 was rung 32 times, once for each of the people who lost their lives.


Cdr Peter Noblett pays his respects
Members and standard bearers of the Submariners Association
K - 13 Memorial service in HMNB Clyde Church