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 Royal navy submarines in Ireland 1917 to 1918

Prior to the conflict of World War One, the submarine was mainly seen as a tool of coastal defence,and to aid fleets of naval ships, protecting their flanks.   Germany and Austria were to prove that they were a supreme offensive weapon and the Allies had to change operations and tactics to counteract this.

In the early 20th Century, Submarines had been occasional vistors to Cork,as part of visiting fleets on manouveres, and for demonstrations, including the ill-fated HMS A5 . There were no submarines stationed here before 1917.

The unrestricted u-boat offensive of 1917 was proving catastrophic to England and her Allies. Vice -Admiral Lewis Bayley, received critical reports from the Admiralty complaining that u-boats were rounding the north and West coasts of Ireland with impunity.   This saw the advent of the defence of the 'hunter-killer' submarine. patrolling Irish waters, patrolling singly, shadowing commercial shippping, in the hope of spotting an enemy submarine and attacking it.

HMS L1 Vulcan Flotilla, Dec 1917.

Two flotillas were established in Ireland. The Platypus and Vulcan flotillas, named after the submarine depot ships HMS Platypus and HMS Vulcan , which provided supplies, mobile workshops, and accomodation to resting submariners.

HMS Vulcan
Submarine Depot Ship HMS Vulcan

During 1918 another depot ship HMS Ambrose was also stationed here to assist. This became for a time a combined Vulcan/Ambrose Flotilla . Thse flotillas were mobile, and at various stages were based in Queenstown (Cobh), Co. Cork, Berehaven Co. Cork, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal, and Killybegs Co Donegal.

Submarine Depot Ship HMS Ambrose

Twenty three Royal Navy submarines were stationed in Ireland over the course of World War One. By November 1918 There were five, all stationed in Donegal.

HMS D7 Platypus Flotilla, 1917.

List of RN Submarines stationed in Ireland during WW1

Name Details
HMS C7 Vulcan Flotilla Berehaven Nov 1917, Attached HMS Vernon Nov 1918 Sold 1919
HMS D1 Platypus Flotilla from April 1917, sunk as target Oct 1918
HMS D4 Platypus Flotilla from April 1917. Sold 1921
HMS D6 Platypus Flotilla from April 1917 , sunk 28 June 1918 by UB-73.
HMS D7 Platypus Flotilla from April 1917.Sold 1921
HMS D8 Platypus Flotilla from April 1917.Sold 1921
HMS E23 Vulcan Flotilla from May 1917. Sold 1922.
HMS E27 Attached to Vulcan Flotilla Nov 1917. Sold 1922.
HMS E32 Vulcan Flotilla from March 1917. Sold 1922.
HMS E35 Vulcan Flotilla from May 1917. Sold 1922
HMS E43 Attached Vulcan Flotilla but never stationed in Ireland. Sold 1921
HMS E47 Vulcan Flotilla from march 1917 - Lost in North Sea 20th Aug 1918
HMS E48 Vulcan Flotilla from May 1917.1921 Target. Sold 1928.
HMS E54 Vulcan Flotilla from March 1917. Sold 1921
HMS E56 Vulcan Flotilla from May 1917.Sold 1923.
HMS G6 Vulcan Flotilla from Nov 1917.Sold 1921
HMS H5 Vulcan Flotilla from March 1917 , Sunk in collision Mar 1918
HMS H8 Vulcan Flotilla from October 1917
HMS L1 Vulcan Flotilla from December 1917
HMS R7 Vulcan Flotilla (Killybegs) Nov 1918
HMS R8 Vulcan Flotilla (Killybegs) Nov 1918
HMS R11 Vulcan Flotilla (Killybegs) Nov 1918
HMS R12 Vulcan Flotilla (Killybegs) Nov 1918    Site first uploaded 24th September 2002    ©2002 to 2022     Site last updated January 2022

Wrecks over 100 years old and archaeological objects found underwater are protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994. Significant wrecks less than 100 years old can be designated by Underwater Heritage Order (UHO) on account of their historical, archaeological or artistic importance as is the case with the wreck of the RMS Lusitania lost off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. UHOs can also be used to designate areas of seabed or land covered by water to more clearly define and protect wreck sites and archaeological objects. Under the legislation all diving on known protected wreck sites or with the intention of searching for underwater cultural heritage is subject to licensing requirements.