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Posted on Jun 14, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Royal Navy Submarine Museum

Armchair General

HMS Alliance had a crew of between 64 and 67. She carried 20 Torpedoes, three for each of the four front tubes, 2 for each of the two rear-firing tubes and four externally mounted, making her a very powerful vessel for her time. This is the front torpedo room, facing aft.

Each Torpedo weighed 1.25 tons and had to be manhandled into the boat and into the tubes for firing BY HAND. In addition, in order to maintain equilibrium, every time a Torpedo was fired, the equivalent weight had to be replaced inside the boat IMMEDIATELY to avoid the bow or stern shooting upwards. Balance was critical, and this was achieved by drawing in a pre-determined amount of water every time a Torpedo was fired. Here you can see two of the front Torpedo tubes. The water storage area that I’ve just described was below.


Although there were areas dedicated for the crew to sleep, if the vessel was not actually at war, accommodation would be spread throughout the boat ? including in the torpedo room that we have already seen. This, however, is one of the proper bunks.

Here’s a rest area. During underwater travel, the crew would tie a taught piece of string across one of the rooms ? hull to hull. They could often gauge how deep they were by how loose the string became as the boat was compressed by the vast pressure outside.

This picture really shows how cramped the vessel is. During deployment, stores would be crammed into every available space, sometimes Submariners would even have to walk over tins laid out on the floor and draped in canvas ? space was at such a premium.

More bunks. HMS Alliance would sail for 8 weeks at a time. Usually without surfacing.

Some of the steering gear.

The main periscope.

A view up into the conning tower. The Captain’s cabin would be up here.

The Radio Room.

One of the "Heads". HMS Alliance had three.

One of the MASSIVE diesel engines. There were two, and they still work. Together, HMS Alliance could generate enough power to supply a small village. Of course, this power was used to charge the batteries that would run the ship underwater. Alternatively, a snorkel device would be used to supply the engines with enough air that they could run underwater ? but of course, this made life very uncomfortable for the crew.

Switches in the battery area. HMS Alliance was decommissioned as a result of an explosion in Number 2 Battery that killed two Stokers. She was laid up and used as a training vessel, and eventually moved to the museum.

I hope you have enjoyed this photo tour and I would strongly urge you to visit the museum if you are in the area.

To view the complete set of images from my visit, go to the ACG image gallery here.

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A J Summersgill

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  1. Would it be possible for you to grant us a reciprocal link to our website at our site was set up as an Information/News website for ex-servicemen/women and serving forces around the world and also includes UK/US/NATO/UN/coalition-military armed forces many thanks Allan Dawling(GSM/bar)

  2. Has anyone seen on the net where France is going to disclose all their information on UFO’s? This coming Friday 6/12/2009.

  3. have you any infomation on H/MSubmarine Cachalot running on one main engine in the 60’s

  4. Greetings, I was wondering if the musem would be interested in acquiring the Japanese I 400 submarine collection that have? It is quite a rarity. Best Regards, Eric Blohm