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


HMS UNISON, later Russian V.3 - U-class Submarine

HM S/M United, sister-boat (Navy Photos/David Maltby & Charlie Chivers, click to enlarge)

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Launched in November 1941 as P34 she completed work-up in February 1942 and after docking in Ardrossan was deployed for a North Sea patrol during March that year. Before being transferred to join the 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta she carried out a patrol to cover passage of a Russian convoy against U-Boat attacks.


On arrival at Gibraltar she took part in covering a Malta supply convoy (Operation HARPOON) to attack Italian warships attempting to intercept this important relief operation. Whilst on patrol south of Sardinia on 13th June she attacked an Italian force comprising two cruisers and four destroyers obtaining one hit. Before return to Gibraltar she attacked and missed a submarine. On arrival in Malta this submarine began a series of patrols the first of which was in the Aegean where she hit a tanker off Levkas which had to be beached. Her next patrol off Crete was uneventful but during October she sank a mercantile off Navaria. Deployed in the Tyrrhenian Sea the next month she again encountered a submarine but the attack failed, although later she hit and damaged a tanker.


Later in November she had an uneventful patrol off Cape St Vito before being selected to take part in providing cover for an attack by CHARIOTS on warships in Sardinia by a patrol off the eastern coast whilst other submarines launched the midget craft early in 1943. On return to Malta she was renamed UNISON and was the first submarine to carry this name which had been used by a vessel requisitioned during WW1. She was deployed for patrol in the Gulf of Gabes and Hammamet area for interception of supply ships in February and sank three small craft by sunk by surface gun attacks before return to Malta on 14th February. Her next patrol off the coast of Calabria was more successful as she sank an Italian tanker in convoy and survived a somewhat ill directed counter attack by diving deep. A later encounter with a submarine was again a failure.


Whilst on patrol in April, north of Sicily she sank the 6,000 ton mercantile MARCO FOSCARINI (Groener - scuttled as a hulk at Tripoli, January 1943) and the next month the Italian freighter TERM in the Straits of Messina after which the counter attack was evaded. Selected for service as a Beach Marker during the allied landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY) she assisted in accurate navigation of the assault convoys. Her next interception patrol was north of Messina during which she unsuccessfully attacked a mercantile before going to Bizerta. She was attached to a convoy for passage to Malta but after being detached she came under friendly fire from a merchant ship. This killed one officer and wounded the commanding officer as well damage to the structure which required dockyard repair which was completed in Malta on 20th August.


This submarine took passage to UK from Malta for a refit on 9th September 1943 and after sailing from Gibraltar carried out a patrol west of Cadiz before arriving at Devonport on 28th to Pay-off. Refit work was completed in February 1944 and she recommissioned for trials and training duties in the 6th Submarine Flotilla based at Blyth. These duties terminated in May after she had been selected for transfer to the Soviet Fleet and she prepared for her new service at Rosyth.


On completion she took passage to Dundee where she was handed over to Russia and renamed V.3 (B.3 in Russian). She arrived at Polyarno on 5th August and joined the Northern Fleet. Retained after the end of hostilities she was not returned to the RN until February 1949 when she was placed in Reserve and went on the Disposal List at Lisahally until being sold for breaking up at Stockton on Tees the next year.


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revised 30/11/10
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