HMS Poseidon (P99)

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United Kingdom
Name: HMS Poseidon
Builder: Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down: 5 September 1928
Launched: 22 August 1929
Commissioned: 5 May 1930
Fate: Sunk on 9 June 1931
General characteristics
Class & type: Parthian-class submarine
  • 1,475 long tons (1,499 t) surfaced
  • 2,040 long tons (2,070 t) submerged
Length: 260 ft (79 m)
Beam: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Draught: 13 ft 8 in (4.17 m)
  • Diesel-electric
  • 2 Admiralty diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,300 kW)
  • 2 Electric motors, 1,530 hp (1,140 kW)
  • 2 shafts
  • 17.5 knots (20.1 mph; 32.4 km/h) surfaced
  • 9 kn (10 mph; 17 km/h) submerged
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km) at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 59
  • 8 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (6 bow, 2 stern)
  • 1 × 4 in (102 mm) deck gun
  • 2 × machine guns

HMS Poseidon (P99) was a Parthian-class submarine designed and built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering in Barrow-in-Furness for the Royal Navy, launched on 22 August 1929.

She spent most of her short career assigned to the Yellow Sea region, based at the Royal Navy's base at Weihai, China.

At about 12:12 on 9 June 1931, while exercising on the surface with the submarine tender Marazion 20 mi (32 km) north of the vessels' base at Weihai, and despite excellent visibility, Poseidon collided with the Chinese merchant vessel SS Yuta.[1][2]

Thirty-one of the submarine's crew managed to scramble into the water before the submarine sank to the seabed 130 ft (40 m) below within a few minutes.[3] Aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, heavy cruiser HMS Berwick and sister submarine HMS Perseus led the rescue operations.[4] Poseidon was equipped with Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus which had come into service two years earlier. This was a closed circuit underwater breathing system which provided the wearer with a supply of pure oxygen and a canvas drogue to slow the rate of ascent. Despite the submarine not being equipped with specialised escape compartments or flooding valves, eight of the crew managed to leave the forward end of the boat, although two failed to reach the surface and one died later. Twenty-one crew died in total.

A consequence of the successful escape of part of the crew was to change Admiralty policy from advising crews to wait for the arrival of assistance to attempting to escape from the submarine as soon as possible. This policy was announced in the House of Commons in March 1934.[5]


The secret salvaging of the submarine in 1972 by China's then newly formed underwater recovery units was described in 2002 in an article in the popular Chinese magazine Modern Ships (Chinese: 现代舰船; pinyin: Xiàndài jiàn chuán).[6][7] This was not known about in the west until the researcher and journalist Steven Schwankert discovered that article with a Google web search and later read it in a Hong Kong library.[7][8]

In the former British naval cemetery on the island of Liugong, gravestones, bearing clearly legible names, dates and epitaphs of the lost sailors were found in haphazard stacks by historians looking into the sinking of HMS Poseidon and its salvage by the Chinese.[9] The British Ministry of Defence has not received an answer to what became of the remains of the crew.[10] Results of this research are told in Schwankert's book Poseidon: China's Secret Salvage of Britain's Lost Submarine[11] and the documentary film The Poseidon Project.

See also


  1. "Submarine Casualties Booklet". U.S. Naval Submarine School. 1966. Retrieved 2009-09-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lloyd's Register of Ships (PDF). Lloyd's Register of Shipping. 1931.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Yuta was a 1,753 GRT cargo ship, built at Aberdeen in 1889 as Yuen Sang and owned in 1931 by Pao Yu Tzai of Newchwang, China
  3. Gray, Edwyn (2003). Disasters of the Deep A Comprehensive Survey of Submarine Accidents & Disasters. Leo Cooper. pp. 130–131. ISBN 0-85052-987-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "HMS Poseidon". Retrieved 2006-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Paul Kemp (1990). The T-Class submarine - The Classic British Design. Arms and Armour. p. 105. ISBN 0-85368-958-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). (Most of the article's text is behind a paywall, or requires a special plugin)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Schwankert 2013, pp. 139–141,143–144
  8. Ryall, Julian (12 June 2009). "China accused of secretly salvaging sunken British submarine containing 18 lost sailors". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Ryall, Julian (3 Jun 2013). "Families of HMS Poseidon victims angry at 'desecration' of graves". Tokyo: The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 Jun 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Julian Lewis MP (24 June 2009). "HMS Poseidon - Written answers and statements". Hansard.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Schwankert, Steven R (2013). Poseidon: China's Secret Salvage of Britain's Lost Submarine. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888208180. Retrieved 15 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Partial view on Google Books
  • "HMS Poseidon". Retrieved 2013-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "HMS Poseidon". Submariner Association - Barrow in Furness Branch. Retrieved 2013-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Parthian Class Early Patrol Submarine". Britsub. Retrieved 2013-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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