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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006


HMS PORPOISE - Grampus-class Minelaying Submarine

HM S/M Porpoise (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

PORPOISE-Class submarines ordered on 11th June 1931 from Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow and laid down on 22nd September 1931. This minelaying submarine was launched 30th August 1932 and was the first of the Class. The eighth RN ships to carry the name, introduced in 1777 when given to a Sloop had all been surface warships. It had last been used by a destroyer built in 1913 and sold to Brazil in 1920. She was the only submarine of the Class to carry her fuel in external tanks which terminated some 6o feet short of the bow structure, making her easy to identify. Build was completed on 11th March 1933 and she then commissioned for service. In 1938 she was serving with the 5th Submarine Flotilla in the Home Fleet. After the outbreak of war in September 1939 she was deployed for convoy defence. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942 this submarine was adopted by the civil community of Workington, Cumberland.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




Mo t t o

'Purpose is power'


S u m m a r y   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


1 9 3 9


September             Deployed for convoy defence in Home waters.

to                            Lieut Cdr P Q Roberts, RN



1 9 4 0


January                  Convoy defence duties in continuation




April                       Transferred to Home Fleet service in support of planned minelaying operation off Norway to

                                prevent enemy use of Norwegian Leads for iron ore traffic (Operation WILFRED)

                                Nominated for minelaying duties with HM Submarine NARWHAL.

                                (Note: HM Submarines SWORDFISH, TETRARCH and SEAL joined Home Fleet

                9th          On station off Norway.

                15th        Carried out torpedo attack on U3 which failed.

                                (Note: This was initially reported as U1 but post war records amended this action.)


May                        Home Fleet minelaying duties in continuation.

                15th        Carried out lay of 50 MkXVI mines off Hovden Island, Norway 48 (Operation FD11.)



                14th        Carried out lay of 50 MkXVI mines off Ramsoy Fjord, Norway 50 (Operation FD18.)

                                (Note: The German minesweeper M5 was sunk in this field on 18th June.)



                29th        Carried out lay of 50 Mk XVI mines in Heligoland Bight (Operation FD23.)


August                  Home Fleet deployment in North Sea in continuation

to                            Transferred for interception patrol in English



1 9 4 1


January                  Channel deployment in continuation.




April                       Deployed in North Atlantic for defence of SC and HX series Convoys with HM Submarines

                                THUNDERBOLT, TRIBUNE and TALISMAN.


May                        Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

to                            Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean Fleet



August                  Deployed with 1st Submarine Flotilla based at Alexandria with support from HM Depot Ship



November              Flotilla deployment in eastern Mediterranean in continuation.

                                Commanding Officer Lieut Cdr Pizey, RN.


                12th        Damaged Italian mv SEBASTIANO VENIER of 6,311 tons in a torpedo attack.

                                (Note: This ship was carrying 2,000 prisoners of war, including British soldiers, from 

                                Benghazi. and was escorted by two destroyers and a torpedo boat sunk on 15th by HM

                                Submarine TORBAY.)


1 9 4 2



                11th        Carried out lay of 46 Mk XVI mines in Suda Bay, Crete.

                                (Note: This field claimed a ship of 2,417 tons on 11th.)


February                Flotilla deployment based at Alexandria in continuation

to                            Nominated for support of planned Malta relief convoy operation




                6th          Deployed with HM Submarines PROTEUS, THORN, TAKU, THRASHER, UNA, P32, P34

                                and P35 in positions east of Sicily to provide cover against any attempt by major Italian

                                Fleet units to attack Convoy MW11 during passage to Malta from Alexandria (Operation


                8th          Returned to Alexandria when VIGOROUS was abandoned

                                (See MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodward and THE BATTLE FOR THE

                                MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre.)


July                         Deployed for transport of petrol and essential stores to Malta (Operation MAGIC

                                CARPET) (Note: Flotilla was transferred to Haifa after German threat to Alexandria.)


August                  MAGIC CARPET deployment with HM Submarines PARTHIAN, REGENT and RORQUAL

                                in continuation.

                30th        Carried out lay of 46 Type XVI mines off Ras-el-Tin, Cyrenaica.

                                (Note: This field later claimed Italian torpedo boat GENERALE ANTONIO CANTORE

                                on 22nd.)


September             Commanding Officer Commander Bennington



                3rd          Carried out lay of 46 MkXVI mines west of Tobruk


November              Deployed with HM Submarines TRAVELLER, PARTHIAN, CLYDE, THRASHER and

                                PROTEUS for further transport of petrol and supplies to Malta (Operation MAGIC


                8th          Deployed for patrol to intercept any Italian warships attempting to interfere with allied

                               landing operations in Algeria (Operation TORCH See Naval Staff History for details.)

                17th        Sank Italian tanker GIUILO GIORDANI by torpedo attack.

                                (Note: This ship was escorted by two Italian destroyers.)


December              Flotilla duties in Mediterranean


1 9 4 3


January                  Mediterranean deployment in continuation

to                            Passage to UK for refit.

December              Under refit

1 9 4 4


January                  Deployment in Home waters on completion of post refit trials to be investigated.

to                            Nominated for service in 2nd Submarine Flotilla, Eastern Fleet based at Trincomalee



April                       Took passage to Trincomalee

to                            Joined Flotilla with support from HM Depot Ship WOLFE.

June                        Deployed for minelaying and interception patrols.


July                         Deployed in Malacca Strain and sank small junk by surface gunfire whilst on passage for


                6th          Carried out minelay of 30 MkXVI mines in mouth of Deli River, Sumatra

                8th          Carried out lay of 10 MKII in Malacca Straits

                                On completion carried out lay of another 16 XVI mines in mouth of Deli River


August                  Eastern Fleet deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

                                Nominated for service with 8th Submarine Flotilla, Pacific Fleet

                                Passage to Fremantle, Western Australia to join Flotilla

                                (Note: HMS MAIDSTONE was deployed to provide support.

                                Flotilla comprised 12 RN and one Dutch submarine.)

                                Commanding Officer, Lieut Cdr H B Turner, RN


September             Nominated for special operation to carry out attack by Special Service Unit on Japanese

                                shipping in Singapore Roads (Operation RIMAU.)

                                Embarked 13 one man submersible canoes, 25 men and 8.5 tons of stores

                                For details see THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winston and Naval Staff History.

                11th        Took passage from Fremantle.

                29th        Passengers transferred to junk for passage to Singapore Roads.,

                                (Note: RIMAU was a total failure as all the attacking party were captured and later

                        executed by the Japanese. See WINNING HAZARD by N Wynyard and RETURN OF

                                THE CONDOR by B Connel.)


October                  Flotilla duties based at Fremantle in continuation.

to                            Carried out two interception patrols in Indian Ocean.



December              Deployed for minelaying operation

                9th          Carried out lay of 12 M MkII mines off Penang

                                Carried out further lay of 49 Mk XVI mines in same area.

                                Sailing ship vessel was sunk by surface gunfire.


1 9 4 5


Jan                          Carried out lay of 12 MkII mines off Penang

                                Carried out further lay of 49 MkXVI off Penang

                19th        Came under air attack off Penang and sunk without survivors.

                                Commanding Officer, Lieut Cdr H B Turner DSC RN.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS PORPOISE was the last and 75th RN conventional submarine lost during WW2. On 25th April 1956 this  name was carried forward when given to another submarine built at Barrow.


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