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


HMS SEAL (37 M) - Grampus-class Minelaying Submarine

HM S/M Seal (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

One of the second Group of PORPOISE Class submarines ordered on 1st July 1936 from HM Dockyard Chatham and laid down on 9th December 1936. This minelaying submarine was launched on 27th September 1938 and was the 2nd RN warship to bear  the name which was introduced in 1897 for a destroyer sold in 1921. Build was completed on 24th May 1939. This submarine had been commissioned for service on the China Station. After the outbreak of war the submarine in September 1939 was at Aden during passage to join the Flotilla.


B a t t l e    H o n o u  r  s




H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Green, a Grampus Silver

(In a circular frame.)


M o t t o

Grandis inter alios: 'Great amongst others'


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


1 9 3 9


February                Commissioned for service under the command of Lieut Cdr R P Lonsdale, RN


March                    On completion of acceptance trials prepared for foreign service.

to                            On passage to join Flotilla at Hong Kong.



September             At Aden and took return passage to UK for minelaying duties in Home waters.


October                  Deployed at Portsmouth on arrival.

                                Nominated for service in Atlantic for defence of HX series convoys during passage from

                                Canada to UK.


November              Deployed with HM Submarines CACHALOT and NARWHAL for convoy defence based

                                at Halifax.


December              Provided defence with HM Submarine NARWHAL and four French submarines for

                                Convoys HXF11, HX11 and HX12 during Atlantic passage


1 9 4 0


January                  Atlantic deployed in continuation




March                    Redeployed for interception patrols in Home Waters based at Immingham

                                Carried out several patrols.


April                       Deployed with HM Submarines NARWHAL, PORPOISE, SWORDFISH and TETRARCH for

                                interception of warships and mercantiles on passage to Norway

                29th        Deployed to carry out minelay in Kattegat.



                4th          Entered Kattegat and encounter HMS NARWHAL returning from minelay.

                5th          Under air attack without serious damage.

                                Sighted enemy trawlers and decided to carry out lay in in alternative area.

                                Under anti-submarine search and during evasive manoeuvres detonated mine and

                                sustained major damage which resulted in submarine being stuck in the mud on sea bed.

                                Obliged to surface when air became foul.

                                When unable to surface released drop keel and blew reserve tanks which enabled

                                submarine to surface.

                                Under series of air attacks which totally disabled submarine.

                                Later towed to Frederickshaven, Denmark and crew were taken PoW


P o s t   W a r  N o t e s


HMS SEAL was not in repairable condition, despite efforts being made at Kiel to bring her back into service. In 1943 this submarine was left to rust at Kiel. In April 1946 after a court Martial Lieut. Cdr. Lonsdale was acquitted of all charges relating to the loss of his command. He subsequently resigned his commission and entered the Church.


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revised 25/11/10
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