was built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness, where the
majority (10) of this type of submarine were built.
The rest of this class were constructed in shipyards around the UK - Chatham, Devonport, Birkenhead and Greenock.
As the Second World War raged, 46 A Class submarines were ordered by the British Government in 1943.
In the end only 18 A Class boats were built and 16 of them actually
commissioned, including HMS Alliance.
class of diesel submarine was the only new British design throughout the
entire war. It was capable of
better speeds and could travel a greater range than its predecessors.
Its hull was entirely welded.
It also had the advantage of producing less noise underwater so the
enemy would find it harder to detect her as she crept on by. Ironically through, only 2 of the 16 boats were
completed before the end of the war – HMS Amphion being the first
to be launched in August 1944 followed later by HMS Astute – and
neither of these submarines saw enemy action.
HMS Alliance was commissioned in May 1947.
After the war
various modifications were made to these Overseas Patrol Submarines, as
they were known. One such addition was to attach a snort mast – based upon
the same lines as the “schnorkel” used by German U-boats during the
war. This allowed air to
enter the submarine whilst at periscope depth thus allowing her to stay
submerged for much longer and to run on diesel engines rather than the
slower electric ones. The
A Class submarine HMS Andrew showed off her new abilities by
undertaking a 15-day trip from Bermuda to England entirely submerged.
On completion of the undersea journey in June 1953, the day before
the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the news was announced at the same time as
two other great feats: Edmund Hillary and his team conquered Mount
Everest - 29,000 feet above sea-level, and England won the Ashes!
Sadly another A
Class submarine that will not be forgotten is HMS Affray.
This boat disappeared whilst on a training exercise north of
Guernsey in 1951. She was
lost with all hands – 75 men. She
claims the unenviable title of being Britain’s last submarine lost at sea.
Alliance, together with her sister boats, served the British Navy for
a period spanning almost three decades. The A Class was gradually replaced
with the Porpoise and Oberon Classes.
HMS Andrew was the last A Class in service, being
decommissioned in 1974.
HMS Alliance is preserved as a museum piece at the Royal Navy
Submarine Museum at HMS Dolphin, Gosport.
It is possible to explore the whole boat and be told her history in
detail by men who actually crewed on submarines themselves.
prints of this painting are now available
with the following
inscription beneath the image:
details & Armament
- original configuration
Laid down March 1945,
launched July 1945, commissioned May 1947
281’ long x 22’ beam x 17’ draft
18.5 knots surfaced, 8 knots submerged
1385 tons displacement (surfaced)
10 x 21” torpedo tubes – 6 at bow (2 external), 4 at stern (2
4 external tubes were later removed)
x 4” gun forward of conning tower
3 x .303 machine guns
1 x 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun