HMS K13 was a steam-propelled First World War K class submarine of the Royal Navy. She sank in a fatal accident during sea trials in early 1917 and was salvaged and recommissioned as HMS K22.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS K13
Ordered: August 1915
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilders, Glasgow, Scotland
Launched: 11 November 1916
Fate: Sold for scrapping 16 December 1926 in Sunderland
General characteristics
Class and type: K-class submarine
  • 1,980 tons surfaced
  • 2,566 tons submerged
Length: 339 ft (103 m)
Beam: 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m)
Draught: 20 ft 11 in (6.38 m)
  • 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) surfaced
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
  • Surfaced:
  • 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi) at maximum speed
  • 12,500 nautical miles (23,200 km; 14,400 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
  • Submerged:
  • 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
  • 40 nautical miles (74 km; 46 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Complement: 59 (6 officers and 53 ratings)
  • 4 × 18 inch (450 mm) beam torpedo tubes
  • 4 × 18 in (450 mm) bow tubes, plus 8 spare torpedoes
  • 2 × 4 in (102 mm) guns
  • 1 × 3 in (76 mm) gun
  • 2 × 18 in (450 mm) deck tubes originally fitted, but later removed

She had previously suffered another accident when heavy seas had damaged one of the funnels and water had nearly flooded her engine room. The damage had been repaired but the next one was far more serious.


She sank in Gareloch, Argyll, Scotland, on 29 January 1917 just after 3:15 PM, having signalled to HMS E50 that she was about to dive. She had 80 people on board - 53 crew, 14 employees of the shipbuilders, five sub-contractors, five Admiralty officials, "Captain" Joseph Duncan, a River Clyde pilot, Commander Francis Goodhart and engineering officer, Lieutenant Leslie Rideal both from her sister ship K14 which was still under construction.

As she dived, seawater entered her engine room through openings which failed to close properly and flooded it along with the after torpedo room. As the submarine sank, the 10-ton forward keel weight was dropped, but this did not arrest the descent. Two men were seen on the surface by Annie MacIntyre, a maid in a hotel a mile or so away, but her report was ignored. The crew of E50 became concerned when the submarine did not surface again, and found traces of oil on the surface as well as streams of bubbles where K13 went down.

The first rescue vessel, Gossamer, arrived at around 22:00 and divers were sent down at daybreak. The divers were delayed, since Gossamer had a diving-suit but no diver, and the diver's assistant was nearly drowned, when the suit which had not been used for years, burst.

Morse code signals were exchanged between them and the trapped crew of the submarine. Despite the lack of proper escape apparatus, the captain, Lieutenant-Commander Godfrey Herbert, and the captain of K14, Commander Goodhart, attempted an escape to the surface by using the space between the inner and outer hatches of the conning tower as an airlock.[1] Herbert reached the surface alive, but Goodhart's body was later found trapped in the wheelhouse.

Later that afternoon an airline was connected, which allowed the ballast tanks to be blown and with the aid of a hawser, and by midday on 21 January the bows had been brought to just above the surface and supported by a barge on each side. A hole was cut through her pressure hull, and at 22:00 the final survivor was rescued from the submarine, 57 hours after the accident. 32 people died in the accident and 48 were rescued. 31 bodies were expected to be still on the submarine, but only 29 were found, and it was concluded that the maid had indeed seen two people escaping from the engine room. They were later identified as Engineer-Lieutenant Arthur Lane and Fairfield foreman John Steel. Lane's body was recovered from the Clyde two months later, Steel's body was never found.

At 6 p.m. the following day, K13 tore the bollards out of the barges and sank again, flooding through the hole. The submarine was finally salvaged on 15 March, repaired and recommissioned as HMS K22.

The court of enquiry found that four of the 37 inch (940 mm) diameter ventilators had been left open during the dive, and that indicator lights in the control room had actually showed them as open. The engine room hatch was also found to be open.

Class sister HMS K5 was lost with all hands in January 1921, also due to problems with the air intakes that ventilate the boiler rooms.

The war graves and a monument to those who lost their lives in the K13 sinking was erected by the ship's company, of the submarine depot at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport. It is to be found at the entrance to Faslane Cemetery, at the head of the Gare Loch.

A memorial to the disaster was erected in Carlingford, New South Wales, Australia, paid for by the widow of Charles Freestone, a leading telegraphist on K13 who survived the accident to later emigrate and prosper in Australia. The memorial was unveiled on 10 September 1961 and has the inscription "This memorial has been created in memory of those officers and men of the Commonwealth who gave their lives in submarines while serving the cause of freedom." Set inside a pool of water surrounded by stone, it is composed of large (taller than a man) white letters saying "K13". It is called the "K13" memorial in particular memory of those lost in HM Submarine K13.


  1. "Submarine Casualties Booklet". U.S. Naval Submarine School. 1966: G-5. Retrieved 19 August 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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