:: HMS SWORDFISH (1916) ::

HMS Swordfish attack submarine (1916) High resolution picture

The HMS Swordfish was an experimental submarine launched in 1916, being the first steam-powered submarine built for the Royal Navy. This approach seemed the only solution available in that time to achieve the high speed on surface which would allow a submarine to operate alongside the surface fleet. Diesel engines were then unreliable and not powerful enough, so steam turbines were proposed to meet the requirement of a speed of 20 knots. However, the HMS Swordfish proved during trials to be slower than expected and unstable while surfacing; besides, operational range was severely restricted by the high consumption of the steam turbines. Consequently she was modified as an antisubmarine patrol ship in 1917 and eventually sold for scrap in 1922.

Cesare Laurenti from Fiat-San Giorgio was the original designer of the HMS Swordfish. He prepared a design propelled by geared steam turbines, capable of a speed of 18 knots while surfaced with a displacement of 856 tonnes. A further redesign by the Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company added cannons, which increased displacement at the expense of operational range. The HMS Swordfish was built with a partial double hull, which extended over 75 percent of the overall length, and was divided into eight compartments by seven watertight bulkheads. Before immersion, the special nature of this submarine required to shut down the boiler, retract the funnel and seal the boiler vents, which would take about a minute and a quarter, including the switch to electric propulsion.

Class: Swordfish (1 unit)

Type: Attack submarine

Length: 70.5 meters

Beam: 7 meters

Draught: 4.5 meters

Displacement (surfaced): 947 tonnes

Displacement (submerged): 1123 tonnes

Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine Parsons 4000 horsepower, 1 x boiler Yarrow, 2 x electric motor 1400 horsepower, 64 x battery cell

Speed (surfaced): 18 knots (33.3 kilometers/hour)

Speed (submerged): 10 knots (18.5 kilometers/hour)

Range (surfaced): 3000 nautical miles (5550 kilometers) at 8.5 knots

Range (submerged): 60 nautical miles (110 kilometers) at 6 knots

Test depth: N/A

Complement: 18

Armament: 2 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube (at prow), 4 x 457-millimeter torpedo tube (in transverse), 12 x torpedo, 2 x 76-millimeter deck cannon (fitted in disappearing mountings)

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