British J class submarine
Overview
 

The J class of submarines was a seven submarine class
Ship class
A ship class is a group of ships of a similar design. This is distinct from a ship-type, which might reflect a similarity of tonnage or intended use. For example, the is a nuclear aircraft carrier of the Nimitz class....

 developed by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 prior to the First World War in response to claims that Germany was developing submarines that were fast enough to operate alongside surface fleets. Six were completed during mid-1916, while a seventh entered service at the end of 1917.

Although larger and more powerful than previous British submarines, the J class could not keep up with surface vessels, and operated independently during the war.
Encyclopedia

The J class of submarines was a seven submarine class
Ship class
A ship class is a group of ships of a similar design. This is distinct from a ship-type, which might reflect a similarity of tonnage or intended use. For example, the is a nuclear aircraft carrier of the Nimitz class....

 developed by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 prior to the First World War in response to claims that Germany was developing submarines that were fast enough to operate alongside surface fleets. Six were completed during mid-1916, while a seventh entered service at the end of 1917.

Although larger and more powerful than previous British submarines, the J class could not keep up with surface vessels, and operated independently during the war. Between them, the submarines sank a U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

, and heavily damaged two battleships, with the loss of one to friendly shelling
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

.

Following the war, the six surviving submarines were gifted to the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

 (RAN). All six were paid off during the 1920s. Two were scuttled as breakwaters
Breakwater (structure)
Breakwaters are structures constructed on coasts as part of coastal defence or to protect an anchorage from the effects of weather and longshore drift.-Purposes of breakwaters:...

 in Port Phillip Bay, and four were scuttled in the ship graveyard
Ship graveyard
A ship graveyard or ship cemetery is a location where the hulls of scrapped ships are left to decay and disintegrate, or left in reserve...

 off Port Phillip
Port Phillip
Port Phillip Port Phillip Port Phillip (also commonly referred to as Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just The Bay, is a large bay in southern Victoria, Australia; it is the location of Melbourne. Geographically, the bay covers and the shore stretches roughly . Although it is extremely shallow for...

 heads.

Design

Shortly before the First World War, incorrect reports reached the British fleet that the Germans were planning a class of fast submarines for operation with the fleet, and British efforts turned toward provision of similar vessels. The driving requirement would be a surface speed that matched the speed of the battlefleet. In order to meet the requirement, the DNC designed a three shaft submarine that was 100 feet (30.5 m) longer than the E-class
British E class submarine
The British E class submarines started out as improved versions of the British D class submarine. All of the first group and some of the second group were completed before the outbreak of World War I....

, with electric motors confined to the two outer shafts and a hull form based on a light cruiser. This resulted in a diesel-electric design that was unique within the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

.

The power requirement was 1200 horsepower per diesel engine. In order to meet this power requirement, Vickers, the pre eminent builder of submarine diesels in World War I Britain, elected to produce a 12-cylinder version of their previously successful 100 brake horsepower per cylinder six- and eight- cylinder engines for the D and E classes respectively. They retained the 14.5 by bore and stroke of these previous engines and produced 1200 shaft horsepower at 380 revoultions per minute. These engines eventually went into the J, L-class
British L class submarine
The British L class submarine were originally planned under the emergency war programme as an improved version of the British E class submarine. The scale of change allowed the L class to become a separate class....

 and M-class
British M class submarine
The British Royal Navy M-class submarines were a small class of diesel electric submarine built during World War I. The unique feature of the class was a 12-inch gun mounted in a turret forward of the conning tower.-Background:...

  submarines.

The design featured four bow tubes and two beam tubes for 18-inch torpedoes; they were the first British submarines to carry four bow tubes. Although designed to reach 19.5 knots (38 km/h), the boats could only practically travel at 19 knots (37 km/h), making them too slow for fleet use. The quest for fleet submarine performance turned toward the subsequent, steam powered K-class
British K class submarine
The K class submarines were a class of steam-propelled submarines of the Royal Navy designed in 1913. Intended as large, fast vessels which had the endurance and speed to operate with the battle fleet, they gained notoriety, and the nickname of Kalamity class, for being involved in many accidents....

. The endurance of the J class was considerably greater than previous submarines.

Eight boats were originally ordered, although two were later cancelled, while a seventh was later reordered to a slightly modified design. The first six were laid down between March and May 1915, with J7 laid down in August 1916. The six early boats were completed between April and August 1916, and J7 in November 1917.

Royal Navy

The first boat, HMS J4
HMAS J4
HMS J4 was a J-class submarine built by HM Dockyard at Pembroke in Wales and launched on 2 February 1916.She was transferred to Australia on 25 March 1919 and operated out of Geelong until 12 July 1922, when she was paid off....

 was commissioned at the height of the war on 17 July 1916 and assigned to the 11th Submarine Flotilla at Blyth
Blyth, Northumberland
Blyth is a town and civil parish in southeast Northumberland, England. It lies on the coast, to the south of the River Blyth and is approximately 21 kilometres  northeast of Newcastle upon Tyne...

 in Northumberland
Northumberland
Northumberland is the northernmost ceremonial county and a unitary district in North East England. For Eurostat purposes Northumberland is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region...

, where it was soon joined by the others. These large submarines with their high speed and formidable armament were considered prestige commands, and their early commanders included such notables as Nasmith, Boyle
Edward Courtney Boyle
Rear Admiral Edward Courtney Boyle VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

, and Horton
Max Kennedy Horton
Admiral Sir Max Kennedy Horton, GCB, DSO and two bars was a British submariner in World War I and commander-in-chief of the Western Approaches in the latter half of World War II, responsible for British participation in the Second World War's Battle of the Atlantic.-First World War:Horton joined...

.

The J-class submarines took part in activities against German surface vessels and German submarines both off the Tyne
River Tyne
The River Tyne is a river in North East England in Great Britain. It is formed by the confluence of two rivers: the North Tyne and the South Tyne. These two rivers converge at Warden Rock near Hexham in Northumberland at a place dubbed 'The Meeting of the Waters'.The North Tyne rises on the...

 and Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

. On 5 November 1916
Action of 5 November 1916
The Action of 5 November 1916 was a naval engagement of the First World War. The action was fought between a Royal Navy submarine and a dreadnought squadron of the Imperial German Navy...

, HMS J1 sighted a group of four German battleships at a range of 4000 yards (3,657.6 m). The boat fired a four-torpedo salvo, of which two struck, one hitting the SMS Grosser Kurfürst
SMS Grosser Kurfürst (1913)
SMS Grosser Kurfürst"SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff" was the second battleship of the four-ship . Grosser Kurfürst served in the German Imperial Navy during World War I. The battleship was laid down in October 1911 and launched on 5 May 1913...

, while the other struck the SMS Kronprinz
SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm
SMS Kronprinz"SMS" stands for "Seiner Majestät Schiff" was the last battleship of the four-ship of the German Imperial Navy. The battleship was laid down in November 1911 and launched on 21 February 1914. She was formally commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 8 November 1914, just over 4...

; both enemy battleships were considerably damaged. On 7 July 1917, HMS J2, sighted a U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 and fired a four-torpedo salvo, of which one apparently hit, sinking the SM U-99
SM U-99
SM U-99 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I.U-99 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic.- Operations :...

. HMS J6, was sunk in error during 1918 by shelling from the Q-ship
Q-ship
Q-ships, also known as Q-boats, Decoy Vessels, Special Service Ships, or Mystery Ships, were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them...

  off Blyth.

Royal Australian Navy

The Australian government had a strong desire to include submarines in its new navy before the outbreak of the war and ordered AE1
HMAS AE1
HMAS AE1 was an E-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy . She was the first submarine to serve in the RAN, and was lost at sea with all hands near East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, on 14 September 1914, after less than seven months in service...

 and AE2
HMAS AE2
HMAS AE2 was an E class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy . She was commissioned into the RAN at Portsmouth on 28 February 1914 and was scuttled little more than a year later in the Sea of Marmara after being hit by enemy shellfire during the Battle of Gallipoli.-Construction and...

 of the E-class
British E class submarine
The British E class submarines started out as improved versions of the British D class submarine. All of the first group and some of the second group were completed before the outbreak of World War I....

. The early loss of both of these boats frustrated the submarine ambitions of the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

 (RAN), seeking a replacement for AE1 as early as October 1914, and setting aside 125,000 pounds in the 1915-1916 estimates for this purpose, however the pressures of wartime meant there was no spare capacity in British yards. In 1916, the manager of Cockatoo Island Dockyard sent a party of ten to study submarine construction in Britain, the party returning in 1918. Further searches for a replacement design were made, but before any progress could be made, the prospect of a gift from the Royal Navy became apparent.

At the end of the war, the Royal Navy looked to consolidate its large wartime construction program by retiring older ships or ships armed with 18-in torpedoes in favour of the units of the L-class patrol and H-class
British H class submarine
The British H class submarines were Holland 602 type submarines used by the Royal Navy. The submarines constructed for the British Royal Navy between 1915 and 1919 were designed and built in response to German boats which mined British waters and sank coastal shipping with ease due to their small...

 coastal submarines, which were armed with 21-inch torpedoes.

The J class, with their older pattern torpedoes and obsolete tactical concept were surplus to requirements and offered to the Australian government as a part of the gift fleet. Australia had already ordered a submarine depot ship HMAS Platypus
HMAS Platypus (1917)
HMAS Platypus was a submarine depot ship and base ship operated by the Royal Australian Navy between 1919 and 1946. Ordered prior to World War I to support the Australian submarines AE1 and AE2, Platypus was not completed until after both submarines had been lost, and she was commissioned into the...

 before the war. Commander E.C. Boyle, RN, VC was appointed as the flotilla commander and a collection of other RN loan officers, six junior RAN sub-lieutenants and RN and RAN enlisted volunteers, including a "sprinkling" of former AE2 crew members, made up the crews of the six boats.

The six submarines and the depot ship left Britain on 8 April 1919, and sailed via Gibraltar, Malta, Suez, Aden, Columbo, Singapore, Thursday Island and Moreton Bay. They arrived in Sydney on 15 July 1919.

On arrival the need for a program of deep maintenance and battery replacement became urgent, given their arduous wartime service, limited maintenance, and breakdowns experienced on the voyage out. Short term repairs being made to all boats in late 1919, while J3
HMAS J3
HMS J3 was a J-class submarine built for the Royal Navy by HM Dockyard at Pembroke Dock in Wales and launched on 4 December 1915....

 and J7
HMAS J7
HMS J7 was a J-class submarine built for the Royal Navy by HM Dockyard Devonport in Plymouth and launched on 12 February 1917....

 entered a deep refit in early 1920 that was to last more than a year, while the other four boats completed a program of peacetime exercises, cruises and port visits from their new base at Geelong, Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

. Practice returns show that in the last quarter of 1920, the four operational boats made eighty submerged simulated attacks with 39 calculated to have hit. Management issues at Cockatoo Island delayed the refits of J3 and J7 by three months in early 1921. In March 1921, it was calculated that refit costs had reached 73,500 pounds for J3 and 110,861 pounds for J7; the Admiralty had previously advised that the annual operating costs for these boats was 28,300 pounds.

In April 1921, a report to the board gave the status of the six submarines as follows:
  • J1
    HMAS J1
    HMS J1 was a Royal Navy J class submarine built by HM Dockyard at Portsmouth in Hampshire and launched on 6 November 1915.-Service history:J1 operated in patrols in the North Sea...

     Sydney Battery unsafe and must be replaced (could not dive).
  • J2
    HMAS J2
    HMS J2 was a J-class submarine built for the Royal Navy by HM Dockyard at Portsmouth in Hampshire and launched on 6 November 1915....

     Sydney Heavy engine and battery defects, to enter refit when J3 completed.
  • J3 Sydney Most defects made good, new batteries arrived Cockatoo and unpacked.
  • J4
    HMAS J4
    HMS J4 was a J-class submarine built by HM Dockyard at Pembroke in Wales and launched on 2 February 1916.She was transferred to Australia on 25 March 1919 and operated out of Geelong until 12 July 1922, when she was paid off....

     On Service, battery due for replacement December 1921
  • J5
    HMAS J5
    HMS J5 was a First World War J class submarine built for the Royal Navy by HM Dockyard at Devonport in Plymouth....

     On Service, battery due for replacement February 1922
  • J7 New battery due in May, defects will be made good by December 1921.


The heavy expenditure on submarines, poor materiel condition of the fleet, and general cutbacks in naval expenditures in the wake of the war made it clear about this time (mid-1921) that the flotilla would have to be reduced to reserve. A plan was drawn up in July by Boyle with three boats remaining in service (J3, J4, and J7) with three laid up in reserve (J1, J2, and J5). This plan was authorised in August, and dredging, wharf construction, and reserve crews were performed at Flinders Naval Depot. The plan was expected to save between 100,000 and 130,000 pounds per year.

In early 1922, the operational boats completed exercises at Geelong and J3 and J4 participated in fleet exercises in Hobart. On 20 March, the dredging at Flinders was complete and J1, J4, and J5 were steamed around from Geelong and laid up. Shortly after, the government informed the RAN that a further 500,000 pound cut to the naval estimates would be made, leaving the Naval Board with no option but to lay up all six boats. There were a number of proposals to run on a cadre force at minimal expense with the J7, the boat in the best condition, but these proposals were not taken up. All of the boats were progressively de-stored and sold off for disposal. Four of the submarines, J1, J2, J4, and J5, were scuttled in Bass Strait
Bass Strait
Bass Strait is a sea strait separating Tasmania from the south of the Australian mainland, specifically the state of Victoria.-Extent:The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Bass Strait as follows:...

, approximately 4 kilometres (2.2 nmi) west-southwest of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, and are currently popular scuba diving sites. The remaining two submarines were scuttled as breakwaters
Breakwater (structure)
Breakwaters are structures constructed on coasts as part of coastal defence or to protect an anchorage from the effects of weather and longshore drift.-Purposes of breakwaters:...

 inside Port Phillip Bay, with J3 located near Swan Island in Queenscliff
Queenscliff, Victoria
Queenscliff is a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria, Australia, south of Swan Bay at the entrance to Port Phillip. It is the administrative centre for the Borough of Queenscliffe...

. J7 was the last to go; there were more proposals to recommission her for training, and she was routinely used to provide electrical power to the naval depot. However, she was eventually disposed of in 1927, and scuttled at the Sandringham
Sandringham
Sandringham can refer to:Places*Sandringham, Johannesburg, a suburb of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa*Sandringham, Norfolk, a village in Norfolk, England*Sandringham House in the aforementioned village, owned by the British Royal Family...

Yacht Club in 1930

External links

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