HMS A3 was an A-class submarine built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS A3
Builder: Vickers, Sons & Maxim Ltd. Barrow-in-Furness, England
Laid down: 6 November 1902
Launched: 9 March 1903
Commissioned: 13 July 1904
Fate: Sunk, 12 May 1912
General characteristics
Class and type: A-class submarine
  • 190 long tons (193 t) surfaced
  • 206 long tons (209 t) submerged
Length: 105 ft (32.0 m)
Beam: 12 ft 9 in (3.9 m)
Draught: 10 ft 8 in (3.3 m)
Installed power:
  • 1 × 16-cylinder Wolseley petrol engine
  • 1 × electric motor
  • 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) submerged
Range: 320 nautical miles (590 km; 370 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
Complement: 2 officers and 9 ratings
Armament: 2 × 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes

Design and description

A3 was a member of the first British class of submarines, although slightly larger, faster and more heavily armed than the lead ship, HMS A1. The submarine had a length of 105 feet 1 inch (32.0 m) overall, a beam of 12 feet 9 inches (3.9 m) and a mean draft of 10 feet 8 inches (3.3 m). They displaced 190 long tons (190 t) on the surface and 206 long tons (209 t) submerged. The A-class submarines had a crew of 2 officers and 11 ratings.[1]

For surface running, the boats were powered by a single 16-cylinder 450-brake-horsepower (336 kW) Wolseley petrol engine that drove one propeller shaft. When submerged the propeller was driven by a 150-horsepower (112 kW) electric motor. They could reach 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) on the surface and 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) underwater. On the surface, A3 had a range of 320 nautical miles (590 km; 370 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph);[1] submerged the boat had a range of 30 nautical miles (56 km; 35 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph).[2]

The boats were armed with two 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes in the bow. They could carry a pair of reload torpedoes, but generally did not as doing so that they had to compensate for their weight by an equivalent weight of fuel.[3]

Construction and career

A3 was built at Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness and was commissioned on 13 July 1904. She was accidentally rammed while surfacing by the submarine tender Hazard in the English Channel off the Isle of Wight on 2 February 1912 and sank with the loss of all on board.[4][5] The wreck was salvaged and subsequently sunk as a gunnery target in the English Channel near Portland Bill on 12 May 1912, where she remains today. In July 2016 the wreck of A3 was officially designated as a protected site.[6]


  1. Gardiner & Gray, p. 86
  2. Akermann, p. 120
  3. Harrison, Chapter 27
    • Innes McCartney (2002). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel.
  4. Gray, Edwyn (2003). Disasters of the Deep A Comprehensive Survey of Submarine Accidents & Disasters. Leo Cooper. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-85052-987-5.
  5. "British A3 submarine sunk off Jurassic Coast in 1912 gets protected status". Dorset Echo. Newsquest Media. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.


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